Three Irish make Lions Test team

British and Irish Lions coach Clive Woodward has named three Irish players in his starting 15 for the first Test against New Zealand in Christchurch this Saturday.

British and Irish Lions coach Clive Woodward has named three Irish players in his starting 15 for the first Test against New Zealand in Christchurch this Saturday.

Leinster centre Brian O'Driscoll captains the side, while Shane Byrne lines out at hooker and Paul O'Connell in the second row.

Shane Horgan is among the replacements.

Meanwhile, Jonny Wilkinson has clinched a Test place at inside centre.

The fly-half superstar, poised for his first major Test match since the 2003 World Cup final, will partner O’Driscoll in midfield.

It is a contentious move by Lions chief Clive Woodward, and comes at the expense of Welsh Grand Slam star Gavin Henson, who misses out completely.

Wilkinson has previously worn the number 12 shirt for England, but it is as a fly-half that he made his name during a 52-cap international career.

Stephen Jones will forge an all-Welsh half-back combination alongside Dwayne Peel, with their fellow Six Nations winners – winger Gareth Thomas and prop Gethin Jenkins – also selected.

In another surprise move, full-back Josh Lewsey lines up on the right wing, and his England colleague Jason Robinson starts in the number 15 jersey.

Up-front, Ireland’s Shane Byrne has won the vote as hooker over Steve Thompson, with Ben Kay and Paul O’Connell paired together at lock, and Woodward has chosen an all-English back-row of Richard Hill, Neil Back and Martin Corry.

At 36, Leicester flanker Back is the oldest player ever selected in an original Lions squad, and his selection comes more than a year after he retired from England duties.

Ryan Jones, who only joined the Lions squad just under a fortnight ago as replacement for an injured Simon Taylor, is rewarded after his barnstorming display against Otago with a bench spot.

There are also five England players among the substitutes – Thompson, Graham Rowntree, Danny Grewcock, Matt Dawson and Will Greenwood – who boast 273 Test caps between them.

The starting line-up consists of eight Englishmen, four Welsh and three Irish.

British and Irish Lions team to face New Zealand in the first Test at Jade Stadium, Christchurch, on Saturday.

Jason Robinson (Sale Sharks, England); Josh Lewsey (London Wasps, England), Brian O’Driscoll (capt, Leinster, Ireland), Jonny Wilkinson (Newcastle Falcons, England), Gareth Thomas (Toulouse, Wales); Dwayne Peel (Llanelli, Wales), Stephen Jones (Clermont Auvergne, Wales); Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff, Wales), Shane Byrne (Leinster, Ireland), Julian White (Leicester Tigers, England), Paul O’Connell (Munster, Ireland), Ben Kay (Leicester Tigers, England), Richard Hill (Saracens, England), Neil Back (Leicester Tigers, England), Martin Corry (Leicester Tigers, England).

Replacements: Steve Thompson (Northampton Saints, England), Graham Rowntree (Leicester Tigers, England), Danny Grewcock (Bath, England), Ryan Jones (Ospreys, Wales), Matt Dawson (London Wasps, England), Will Greenwood (Harlequins, England), Shane Horgan (Leinster, Ireland).

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