Van der Merwe and Sutherland in British & Irish Lions squad

Warriors will have two players in a British and Irish Lions Test squad for the first time when the three-match series against South Africa begins at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 5.00pm).

Wing Duhan van der Merwe will start for the Lions with loosehead prop Rory Sutherland named among the replacements.

The Scotland pair both played for the Lions in their tour warm-up match against Japan at Murrayfield last month when they were still contracted to Edinburgh Rugby but they officially became Warriors players at the start of the South Africa tour on July 1.

Tour captain Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, Wales) will skipper the Lions having recovered from a dislocated shoulder sustained in the Japan match just 24 days ago.

In doing so, the Welsh lock will win his tenth-successive Test cap for the Lions in Cape Town, moving him into an illustrious list of Lions legends to have made 10 Test appearances or more, including Gareth Edwards (10), Graham Price (12), Mike Gibson (12) Dickie Jeeps (13) and Willie-John McBride (17). Jones is the first however to play 10 Tests for the famous touring side in the professional era.

Van der Merwe, who has been in sparkling form in South Africa so far, is one of the three Scots in the starting XV, their largest contingent since the 1997 tour to South Africa when current Lions assistant coach, Gregor Townsend, was named alongside Alan Tait and Tom Smith for the first and second Tests.

“In my four Tours as a Lions coach, this was by far the hardest Test selection I have been involved in,” said Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland.

“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, 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.

“We know what we’re coming up against on Saturday. It’s going to be an arm wrestle, there’s no doubt about it. We’ll need to front up physically and be ready to go from the first whistle. When we played SA ‘A’ last week we probably took a bit too long to get into the game, something we can’t afford to do that again this weekend.

“We need to make sure we play in the right areas of the field, not give them easy territory and take our chances when they come.

“While the stands will be empty in Cape Town Stadium, we know Lions fans from across the home nations will be cheering us on back home. We’ll do our best to get the win.”

The much-anticipated clash against the reigning World Champions is the first of three Tests matches in the Castle Lager Lions Series to be shown live and exclusively on Sky Sports.

British and Irish Lions

15 Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs, Scotland) #783
14 Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) #816
13 Elliot Daly (Saracens, England) #822
12 Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #824
11 Duhan van der Merwe (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) #841
10 Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) #821
9 Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) #843
1 Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales) #842
2 Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England) #851
3 Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #818
4 Maro Itoje (Saracens, England) #825
5 Alun Wyn Jones – captain (Ospreys, Wales) #761
6 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England) #826
7 Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England) #853
8 Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #839

16 Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales) #829
17 Rory Sutherland (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) #840
18 Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, England) #814
19 Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #838
20 Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) #847
21 Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #790
22 Owen Farrell (Saracens, England) #780
23 Liam Williams (Scarlets, Wales) #833