Lions and South Africa make changes for second test

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Mako Vunipola in actions for the Lions against the StormersProp Mako Vunipola comes in to start against South Africa on Saturday

Head coach Warren Gatland has made three changes to his starting XV as the British and Irish Lions look to wrap up the series against South Africa in the second Test on Saturday.

Prop Mako Vunipola replaces Rory Sutherland in Cape Town, with scrum-half Conor Murray in for Ali Price and centre Chris Harris starting in place of Elliot Daly.

Number eight Taulupe Faletau is on the bench after missing out on selection for the first Test, while Liam Williams and Hamish Watson drop out of the 23.

The Lions came from 12-3 down at half-time to win the series opener 22-17.

"As always, selection was incredibly tough," said Gatland.

"However, we've made the changes we think are the right calls for the weekend's game."

Dan Biggar, who kicked 14 points last weekend, is named to start at fly-half subject to passing both the concussion return-to-play protocols and an assessment by an independent concussion consultant.

Gatland added: "We know the Springboks will be hurting and they'll throw everything at us on Saturday, but I think there's plenty more to come from us too.

"We feel we can go up another level from where we were in the first Test and I would expect us to improve.

"It's the biggest game on the tour and we have to embrace the expectation that comes with it. As players and coaches, these are the games you want to be involved in.

"We're relishing the opportunity to face the Springboks again on Saturday and potentially seal a series win."

Steven Kitshoff with the ball for South AfricaSteven Kitshoff will win his 50th cap this weekend

South Africa have also made three changes to their starting XV.

World Cup-winning props Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe both start, with Leicester's Jasper Wiese replacing Kwagga Smith at number eight.

Ox Nche, impressive in the first Test, misses out because of a neck injury.

The Springboks have returned to their 6/2 split on the bench, with Saracens prop Vincent Koch amongst the six forwards in reserve.

"This is a massive game for us; it is do or die in order to stay in the race to win the series and we selected a team that offers continuity in selection, but also that we thought would be the best suited to achieve the objectives we have set for this match," said Nienaber.

The match is the second of the three-Test series, with all three games taking place in Cape Town to reduce travelling and the risk of a Covid outbreak in either camp.

The build-up to the series was punctuated by Covid concerns, with multiple Springbok players and staff testing positive in the weeks leading up to the first Test.

In addition, a Lions staff member returned a positive result which led to full-back Stuart Hogg having to isolate as a close contact, missing a handful of warm-up games.

However with both squads currently Covid-free and largely at full strength, the stage is set for another epic showdown in the Mother City as the Lions bid to emulate the heroes of 1974 and 1997 and win a Test series in South Africa.

British & Irish Lions: Hogg; A Watson, Harris, Henshaw, Van der Merwe; Biggar, Murray; Vunipola, Cowan-Dickie, Furlong, Itoje, AW Jones, Lawes, Curry, Conan.

Replacements:Owens, Sutherland, Sinckler, Beirne, Faletau, Price, Farrell, Daly.

South Africa: Le Roux; Kolbe, Am, De Allende, Mapimpi; Pollard, De Klerk; Kitshoff, Mbonambi, Malherbe, Etzebeth, Mostert, Kolisi, Du Toit, Wiese

Replacements: Marx, Nyakane, Koch, De Jager, Van Staden, Smith, H Jantjies, Willemse.

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