British & Irish Lions announced team for friendly against Japan in Murrayfield on June 26 that will serve as preparation for the tour of South Africa and that will have them in front of their audience for the third time in their history and for the first time in front of Asians.
Wing Duhan van der Merwe, props Rory Sutherland and Zander Fagerson and wing Hamish Watson will debut for the Lions in a team led by tour captain Alun Wyn Jones.
The Edinburgh showdown that takes place the day before the team leaves for South Africa. Eight players will make their Lions debut: Tadhg Beirne, Hamish Watson and Jack Conan, but there is a seasoned midfielder combination of Conor Murray and Dan Biggar.
Warren Gatland has chosen a potent cross-center combination of Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw in a starting XV with no English representation.
However, there are four England players on the bench, with Owen Farrell and Jamie George providing starting and hooker coverage, respectively, despite arriving at Lions training ground on Monday.
A crowd of 16,500 will attend the clash in Edinburgh that serves as the backdrop for the eight-game tour of South Africa.
“We anticipate a difficult game against Japan, a team that likes to play at a high pace and change the ball,” Gatland said.
“We saw throughout the World Cup that they had attacking threats throughout the territory and solid defense and play.
“I am pleased with the progress we have made during our training camp in Jersey so far, but we have a long way to go.
“You can see that the team is starting to get familiar with our playing strategies, but as always with a Lions tour, this takes time to adjust.
“However, we are in a good place and I can say that there is much more to come from this group.
“Everyone on the team will start before the start of the test series, so each team member can raise their hand for the test selection.
“We are absolutely delighted to be playing in front of 16,000 fans in Edinburgh. I am sure that the public will be very enthusiastic about the players before we leave for South Africa on Sunday. “
BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Josh Adams, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Tadhg Beirne, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c) , 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Rory Sutherland
Alternates: 16 Jamie George, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 Taulupe Faletau, 21 Ali Price, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Anthony Watson
Date: Saturday, June 26
Referee: Pascal Gaüzère
Assistant referees: Romain Poite, Pierre Brousset
TMO: Eric Gauzins