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Bowe roars back in for Lions in second test

Youngs, Lydiate also come into team as O’Brien, Murray named on the bench against Australia.

Irish winger Tommy Bowe has recovered from a broken hand and will start for the British and Irish Lions in the second test against Australia at Docklands Stadium on Saturday.

With the Lions looking to seal their first series victory since 1997, coach Warren Gatland has brought in Bowe to replace Alex Cuthbert on the wing, while scrumhalf Ben Youngs replaces Mike Phillips in the only changes from the backline that helped the visitors to a 23-21 victory in the first test in Brisbane.

Phillips missed periods of practice this week due to knee soreness from the first test. Gatland made three changes to his starting pack with loose forward Dan Lydiate replacing Tom Croft, while lock Geoff Parling has come in for the injured Paul O’Connell, and Mako Vunipola starts at loosehead prop after Alex Corbisiero was ruled out with a calf injury.

Prop Ryan Grant, a late call-up for the tour, has come onto the bench as one of the front row replacements, while flanker Sean O’Brien and scrumhalf Conor Murray have been brought into the matchday 23.

Bowe, who started all three Tests in South Africa in 2009, broke his hand three weeks ago but has made a recovery after undergoing surgery to repair the damage.

The 29-year-old will wear a hurling glove for protection and revealed that he faced intensive physiotherapy to put himself in contention for Saturday.

“To have fractured my hand and still be here and now go into one of the biggest matches of my career feels pretty surreal,” Bowe said, “I feel fully primed and ready to go. I’ve been having physio three to four times a day and have been consistently icing my hand. It’s been a pretty frantic regime but it’s amazing how good my hand feels. “I know I am capable of getting myself back up to match speed pretty quickly.”

“Tommy is obviously a quality player and brings experience. He’s a fantastic player for Ulster and Ireland. The medics have done a brilliant job with him,” Gatland said.

“This is a do or die match for Australia so we’ve decided to add some physicality to the side. Croft and O’Brien can give us explosiveness off the bench.

“The fact we’ve made five changes shows how strong the squad is. One or two changes have been forced on us by injury.”

Lions: 15-Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), 14-Tommy Bowe (Ireland), 13-Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland), 12-Jonathan Davies (Wales), 11-George North (Wales), 10-Jonathan Sexton (Ireland), 9-Ben Youngs (England, 8-Jamie Heaslip (Ireland), 7-Sam Warburton (Wales, captain), 6-Dan Lydiate (Wales), 5-Geoff Parling (England), 4-Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), 3-Adam Jones (Wales), 2-Tom Youngs (England), 1-Mako Vunipola (England). Replacements – 16-Richard Hibbard (Wales), 17-Ryan Grant (Scotland), 18-Dan Cole (England), 19-Tom Croft (England), 20-Sean O’Brien (Ireland), 21-Conor Murray (Ireland), 22-Owen Farrell (England), 23-Alex Cuthbert (Wales) (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Peter Rutherford).

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