British and Irish Lions: Three players to watch in second Sharks battle

British and Irish Lions: Three players to watch in second Sharks battle

Anthony Watson in action for England

The British and Irish Lions will play the Sharks for the second time in four days when they meet again at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Here, the PA news agency looks at three players to watch against the men from Natal.

Anthony Watson – England, wing

Among the contingent forced to self-isolate, Watson will finally make his first start when the tour is four matches old. It could be a costly delay for his Test prospects after seeing Josh Adams all but secure one of the wing positions after amassing eight tries in three games, while Duhan Van Der Merwe and Louis Rees-Zammit have also displayed their finishing skills. But Watson, a Test Lion in 2017, is a class act with an extraordinary skill for beating defenders. Now he has the chance to remind Warren Gatland of just how effective he can be.


Gareth Davies – Wales, scrum-half

Another of the Lions’ quarantining squad personnel, Davies is also playing catch-up after seeing his rivals for the number nine jersey – Conor Murray and Ali Price – make strong starts to the expedition against the world champion Springboks. As captain, Murray is in pole position but Gatland admires Davies’ ability to apply defensive pressure and his predatory support play. He made a try-scoring cameo in the 56-14 victory over the Sigma Lions and, having been given his chance alongside Wales team-mate Dan Biggar he needs to make the most of his first start.

Jonny Hill – England, second-row

Seen as a bit of a bolter because of a disappointing Six Nations, Hill made an encouraging debut against the Sigma Lions. Even allowing for the modest opposition, he was a powerful presence at Emirates Airline Park who had the appetite for the close-quarter work Gatland wants from him. Gatland likes his size and physicality – attributes that helped him win selection ahead of Ireland’s James Ryan – and if he delivers against the Sharks, he becomes a genuine prospect to face the Springboks on July 24.

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