Aus have never beaten the Lions in Brisbane. Can they break a seven match losing streak?
The most interesting thing is whether the Aussies can front up to the vaunted physicality of the Lions and bring their backs into the game. If the likes of Folau, Genia, Ioane and Barnes get enough ball it’s going to break the Aussie losing streak. If the B&IL keep it nice and tight as if they’re playing in Cardiff or some such mud pool it’s game over Aussies…
Players to watch:
For Australia: There are so many questionable selections – Is Berrick Barnes the best fullback? Is Adam Ashley-Cooper and Christian Leali’ifano really the best midfield combination? Will James O’Connor cope at flyhalf? However, the one player on which the spotlight will shine brightest is Rugby League convert Israel Folau on the right wing.
For the British and Irish Lions: Many questions have been raised about tour skipper Sam Warburton’s form. He will no doubt like to prove his detractors wrong. Tom Youngs also needs to show the Lions do not have a weakness at hooker.
Head to head: The most exciting of all will be on the wing – Israel Folau on the Australian right wing against battle-hardened Welshman George North on the B&I Lions left wing. Will guile prevail over brute force? Flyhalf is another intriguing battle – James O’Connor in a rare Test appearance in the No.10 shirt for Australia against Irishman Johnny Sexton, playing a pivotal role for the B&I Lions.
2001: Australia won 29-23, Sydney
2001: Australia won 35-14, Melbourne
2001: B&I Lions won 29-13, Brisbane
1989: B&I Lions won 19-18, Sydney
1989: B&I Lions won 19-12, Brisbane
1989: Australia won 30-12, Sydney
1966: B&I Lions won 31-0, Brisbane
1966: B&I Lions won 11-8, Sydney
1959: B&I Lions won 24-3, Sydney
1959: B&I Lions won 17-6, Brisbane
Prediction: It is exciting times and any pundit worth his salt will take a punt on this game. However, getting it right when making that prediction is not as easy as it seems. The B&I Lions may have the edge in the set pieces, but the Wallabies will (should) have the guile in the backs. Should they get enough ball, the Wallabies could cause a few flutters in the Lions den. However, we feel the Lions may just have the edge and squeak a winner. The B&I Lions by 10 points or less.
Australia: 15 Berrick Barnes, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Christian Leali’ifano, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Will Genia, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Ben Mowen, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga’a, 17 James Slipper, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Pat McCabe, 23 Kurtley Beale.
British and Irish Lions: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Brian O’Driscoll, 12 Jonathan Davies, 11 George North, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Tom Croft, 5 Paul O’Connell, 4 Alun Wyn Jones, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Dan Lydiate, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Sean Maitland.
Date: Saturday, June 22
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 20.05 AEST (11.05 UK & Ireland time, 10.05 GMT)
Expected weather: Mostly clear with little chance of rain, but cold. High of 20°C and low of 9°C
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Craig Joubert, Romain Poite (France)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)