Australia v British & Irish Lions, 2nd Test, June 29
Lions change five for second Test
Tom Hamilton in Melbourne
June 27, 2013
Dan Lydiate will start the second Test at blindside © PA Photos
The British & Irish Lions have made five changes for Saturday's second Test against Australia in Melbourne.
With Paul O'Connell and Alex Corbisiero out injured, Warren Gatland has drafted Geoff Parling into the second-row and Mako Vunipola at loose-head. And he has also opted to make a further three changes with Dan Lydiate getting the nod at blindside, Tommy Bowe starting on the right wing and Ben Youngs replacing Mike Phillips at scrum-half.
Phillips was available for selection but the Welsh scrum-half is not even on the bench with Gatland preferring Youngs at No.9 and Conor Murray named among the replacements. "Mike was fit and available," Gatland said. "He's had problems with a sore knee so he hasn't been able to take a full part in training. The decision was to rest him.
"He's potentially an important component of next weekend. All of the nines have done a great job and we felt it prudent to make sure he was 100% for next week by giving him a few days off his feet."
In the pack, Lydiate captained the midweek side against the Melbourne Rebels and has clearly done enough to impress Gatland with him starting at No.6 in place of Tom Croft who is on the bench.
Sean O'Brien has also been drafted into the matchday squad after a solid showing against the Rebels and he will look to win his first Test cap if he gets the nod from the replacements.
And for Bowe, him featuring in the Tests seemed unlikely when he broke a bone in his hand during the Lions' win over the Reds on June 8. But he has worked his way back to full fitness and he comes into the side in place of Alex Cuthbert who drops to the bench despite scoring one of the Lions' two tries against the Wallabies last weekend.
"To have fractured my hand and still be here and now go into one of the biggest matches of my career feels pretty surreal," Bowe said. "I feel fully primed and ready to go.
"I've been having physio three to four times a day and have been consistently icing my hand. It's been a pretty frantic regime but it's amazing how good my hand feels. I know I am capable of getting myself back up to match speed pretty quickly."
The Lions are currently 1-0 up in the series following their 23-21 triumph over Australia and Gatland is hoping his side tie it up on Saturday. "We said after the first Test that we had improvement in us and we are confident that this is the case. Several players have put their hands up this week and have forced their way into the Test side while several players have returned to fitness.
"That is typical of Lions tours. We want players to constantly push for selection, we then select who is on form and who is available. Based on that we have selected a squad that is capable of winning the Test."
Tour manager Andy Irvine added: "We are one Test to nil up and have a wonderful chance to win our first series since 1997. Sixteen years is a long time to wait for a series win. We were very close in 2009 and the whole squad is firmly focused on victory this weekend.
"The Wallabies are always a tough proposition at home and showed in 2001, after losing the 1st Test, that they are capable of coming from behind in a series. We will not underestimate them and will be prepared."
Lions: Leigh Halfpenny, Tommy Bowe, Brian O'Driscoll, Jonathan Davies, George North, Jonathan Sexton, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs, Adam Jones, Alun-Wyn Jones, Geoff Parling, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton (captain), Jamie Heaslip
Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Ryan Grant, Dan Cole, Tom Croft, Sean O'Brien, Conor Murray, Owen Farrell, Alex Cuthbert
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.