Sexton at first-five for Lions against Waratahs

NICK MULVENNEY
Last updated 15:00 13/06/2013
Jonathan Sexton
Getty Images
BIG NIGHT AHEAD: Ireland first five Jonathan Sexton will be hoping to secure a starting test spot for the British and Irish Lions.

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Ireland first five Jonathan Sexton has been given the chance to cement his claims for the starting position in the British and Irish Lions' test series against Australia after he was named to play against the Waratahs on Saturday.

Lions coach Warren Gatland had been expected to name a side for the Waratahs match that would be a strong indicator of his plans for the first test against the Wallabies next week in Brisbane.

Ireland winger Simon Zebo, who was brought in as an injury replacement for Tommy Bowe, will get his first opportunity on the tour while New Zealand-born Sean Maitland will start on the other wing with Wales' Leigh Halfpenny at fullback.

Gatland did not name former Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll in the side to join Wales' Jamie Roberts with many expecting before the tour the duo would be the preferred first-choice midfield combination.

Roberts will instead be joined by his Wales team mate Jonathan Davies.

''We are looking to finalise key playing combinations and strengthen our patterns of play during the next two matches,'' Gatland said in a statement. 

''This match, the fourth of our lead-up matches in Australia, will assist in this process.

''To beat the Waratahs we know we have to improve on our strong performance last Saturday against the Reds.

''This side is more than capable of doing that.''

BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Sean Maitland (Scotland), Jonathan Davies (Wales), Jamie Roberts (Wales), Simon Zebo (Ireland), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland), Mike Phillips (Wales), Jamie Heaslip (Ireland), Sam Warburton (Wales, captain), Tom Croft (England), Paul O'Connell (Ireland), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), Adam Jones (Wales), Tom Youngs (England), Mako Vunipola (England). Reserves: Richard Hibbard (Wales), Alex Corbisiero (England), Dan Cole (England), Geoff Parling (England), Dan Lydiate (Wales), Ben Youngs (England), Owen Farrell (England), Rob Kearney (Ireland).

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