A fuming British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has vowed to change how he names his teams for the rest of the South Africa after his first Test squad was leaked.
Gatland named his team midweek at training in Cape Town with British Publication The Times announcing it soon after, although there was an anomaly in the reserves.
The team was meant to be announced to media later, leaving Gatland upset at a “betrayal of trust” in his ranks.
“I don’t know how that happened. It wasn’t 100 per cent right, but obviously someone has leaked that out,” Gatland said,
“Whether that is on purpose or accidentally or someone has betrayed someone’s trust, whether that is player or a staff member – what I will do next week is just name the team to the players and then name the team to the press straight away.”
The biggest news coming from the naming is confirmation Alun Wyn Jones will captain the British and Irish Lions for their opening Test against the Springboks on Sunday morning NZT.
The Welsh lock recovered from a dislocated left shoulder that had originally ruled him out of the tour and will be making his 10th successive Test appearance for the Lions, the first player to do so in the professional era.
Jones’ inclusion in the starting lineup comes after he played 25 minutes in the Lions' final warmup match against the Stormers over the weekend, with head coach Warren Gatland and his team seemingly satisfied with his fitness.
“It’s a great boost to the squad and to everyone to have him back,” Gatland said. “It’s great in terms of him making a brilliant recovery to make himself available again. He had to run out the other day and spend some time on the pitch, so it’s fantastic.”
The fit-again Robbie Henshaw also starts as he partners Elliot Daly in midfield, while Danny Biggar and Ali Price are paired together at halfback.
There is no place in the matchday 23 for in-form winger Josh Adams or loose forward Taulupe Faletau.
Jack Conan instead anchors the scrum at number eight, with Courtney Lawes and Tom Curry on the flanks — the latter edging out Hamish Watson for the number seven jersey.
The other big calls by Gatland came in the front row where Luke Cowan-Dickie was picked at hooker, with Wyn Jones and Tadhg Furlong either side of him.
Gatland, who is involved with the Lions for a fourth successive tour and third as head coach, called the selection of this particular team his hardest thus far.
“In my four Tours as a Lions coach, this was by far the hardest test selection I have been involved in," he said. “We couldn’t have asked for more from the players so far; they’ve all put their hands up and made picking a starting XV incredibly difficult.
“In truth," he continued, "we would have been happy with any number of different combinations across the 23, however, we’re very pleased with the side we’ve settled on.”
Lions: Stuart Hogg, Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly, Robbie Henshaw, Duhan van der Merwe, Danny Biggar, Ali Price, Wyn Jones, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tadhg Furlong, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Jack Conan
Reserves: Ken Owens, Rory Sutherland, Kyle Sinckler, Tadhg Beirne, Hamish Watson, Conor Murray, Owen Farrell, Liam Williams.
- Associated Press contributed to this report