STUART HOGG, Duhan van der Merwe and Ali Price will all be in the starting XV for Saturday’s first Test against South Africa in Cape Town, according to The Times newspaper.
Two more Scots in the shape of Rory Sutherland and Hamish Watson will be named on the bench, according to the report. Meanwhile, Alun Wyn Jones appears set to start as captain of the side, just four weeks after the Welsh second-row dislocated his shoulder playing for the Lions in their warm-up match against Japan at Murrayfield.
The team selection was scheduled to take place on Thursday but has now been moved forward to 10am BST tomorrow [Wednesday]. Head coach Gatland revealed the team to the players before this afternoon’s training session at the squad’s base an hour from Cape Town.
It looks like disappointing news for Scotland centre Chris Harris, who has been one of the form players on the tour so far, as he misses out to versatile Englishman Elliot Daly.
Zander Fagerson also appears to have failed to make the match-day squad, with Tadhg Furlong starting at tight-had prop and Kyle Sinckler, who didn’t make the initial squad and was only called up when Andrew Porter injured his foot pre-tour, selected on the bench.
Gatland has gone for a six-two split between forwards and backs on the bench, giving an indication of where he believes the contest will be won or lost.
If this team is correct then the full breakdown of the 23-man squad is five Scots, eight Englishmen, six Irishmen and four Welshmen – which is slightly surprising given Gatland’s long association with Wales and the fact that they were Six Nations champions earlier this year.
The breakdown for this starting XV is six Englishmen, and three each from Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Expected British & Irish Lions team to face South Africa: S Hogg; A Watson, E Daly, R Henshaw, D van der Merwe; D Biggar, A Price; W Jones, L Cowan-Dickie, T Furlong, A W Jones (c), M Itoje, C Lawes, T Curry, J Conan.
Replacements: K Owens, R Sutherland, K Sinckler, T Beirne, H Watson, I Henderson, C Murray, O Farrell.