Patched up Lions brace for Brumbies challenge
The British and Irish Lions hope for victory in last tour match before facing Australia.
MELBOURNE - The British and Irish Lions' hopes of victory in their last tour match before facing Australia will be tested by a hastily-assembled backline and an ACT Brumbies side keen to inflict a timely psychological blow in Canberra on Tuesday.
Like all the provincial sides thrown to the Lions, the Brumbies will front up with a starting 15 robbed of their best Wallabies players but under strict orders to leave the tourists bruised, if not beaten, after full-time at Canberra Stadium.
The Lions notched up their fifth win from five tour matches against the New South Wales Waratahs on Saturday, running out 47-17 winners at Sydney Football Stadium, but the emphatic victory extracted a toll.
Centre Jamie Roberts was left nursing a suspected hamstring strain and could join England centre Manu Tuilagi in the treatment room, leaving the Lions vulnerable in the one area they can least afford it.
With Welshman George North also nursing hamstring concerns and fellow winger Tommy Bowe injured with a broken hand, Lions coach Warren Gatland has padded out his backline with a clutch of fly-ins led by 36-year-old Shane Williams.
The former Wales winger, who toured with the Lions in 2005 and 2009 and retired from international rugby at the end of 2011, flies in from Japan and will slot in for just the one match before leaving the squad to do media work.
Englishman Christian Wade, shipped in from Argentina, starts on the other wing, with Brad Barritt landing from the United States and starting at centre in the side captained by Ireland hooker Rory Best.
England's Billy Twelvetrees starts at inside centre against the two-time Super Rugby champions.
The cobbled-together backline, albeit complemented by a still-formidable forward pack, offers the Canberra-based Brumbies arguably the best chance of the Australian provincial sides to beat the Lions -- or at least leave the squad with a few doubts before the first Wallabies test on Saturday.
"We realise it's going to be tough on a few players, but there's some combinations with experience we looked at," Gatland told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.
"Billy and Brad know each other pretty well, Shane Williams will obviously come in.
"Having worked with him for a long time, I think he'll fit in pretty well with our game plan and will understand what we're trying to do, so there's some combinations and players who been there, done that before and knowing what's expected of them."
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