STUART HOGG will end eight years of hurt by making his Lions Test debut against world champions South Africa.

And Alun Wyn Jones will lead a shock starting XV into battle after a miracle recovery from a dislocated shoulder in just 20 days.

Alun Wyn Jones will make a miracle comeback and start for the Lions this weekend

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Alun Wyn Jones will make a miracle comeback and start for the Lions this weekendCredit: Sportsfile
Stuart Hogg will finally earn his Lions Test debut after eight years of waiting

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Stuart Hogg will finally earn his Lions Test debut after eight years of waitingCredit: AFP

Boss Warren Gatland will show his hand today — 24 hours earlier than planned — and has benched England captain Owen Farrell and stand-in skipper Conor Murray.

There is no place for experienced tourists Toby Faletau, Jamie George, Mako Vunipola or Liam Williams.

The tour’s top scorer, Josh Adams, is also missing.

Hogg, Duhan van der Merwe, Dan Biggar, Ali Price, Wyn Jones, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tom Curry, Courtney Lawes and Jack Conan are the nine set to win first starts.

Scotland captain Hogg has already missed three Lions games after isolating in Johannesburg.

The full-back, 29, is on his third tour but has NEVER played a Test after being stuck behind man-of-the-series Leigh Halfpenny in 2013 and then being sent home with a fractured cheekbone in 2017 after a freak clash with Murray.

Hogg said: “I don’t want this to be a sob story because I’ve missed out on the two previous tours but it’s something I have really worked hard towards for a long time.

 

“These are the games that everyone wants to be involved in. It would mean the absolute world to me to be involved on Saturday.

“This is just massive. Massive. In 2013, I can’t complain about not being involved — I was sitting behind Leigh Halfpenny and I learnt a hell of a lot.

“In 2017, I felt I was playing some nice rugby ahead of it and to have it taken away was bitterly disappointing. But that is all in the past and I can’t change anything.

“I just have to suck it up and get on with it — but it has made me hungrier to try to get back and represent the Lions.”

The return of Lion king Jones is also a seismic boost.

Second row Jones, 35, was left at home and told his tour was over just three weeks ago when his left shoulder popped out of its socket against Japan in Edinburgh.

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And Hogg added: “It just instils a huge amount of confidence to have a guy like that back.

“He’s taken a little bit of stick about the fact he’s like Lazarus and came back — but just to have a guy like him back in the camp is tremendous.”

Last night the South African Rugby Union confirmed all three Tests will be played in Cape Town.

  • LIONS (likely): Hogg, Watson, Daly, Henshaw, Van der Merwe, Biggar, Price, Jones, Cowan-Dickie, Furlong, Jones (c), Itoje, Lawes, Curry, Conan. Subs: Owens, Sutherland, Sinckler, Beirne, Watson, Henderson, Murray, Farrell.

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Warren Gatland will confirm his starting XV on Wednesday, 24 hours early

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Warren Gatland will confirm his starting XV on Wednesday, 24 hours earlyCredit: Getty
The squad are putting in the final preparations before Saturday's opening Test in Cape Town

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The squad are putting in the final preparations before Saturday’s opening Test in Cape TownCredit: AFP
Lions Defence coach Steve Tandy previews first Test against South Africa





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