Warren Gatland questioned after making six key changes for British and Irish Lions final Test against South Africa

Tommy Bowe has questioned Warren Gatland’s team selection for the third and final British and Irish Lions test against South Africa on Saturday.

The Lions have reacted to their second Test defeat to South Africa by making six changes including a revamped back three featuring Liam Williams and Josh Adams.

Gatland has made six changes for the series decider


Gatland has made six changes for the series decider

Stuart Hogg and Anthony Watson have made way for the Welsh duo whose aerial expertise will be essential to hopes of winning Saturday’s series decider at Cape Town Stadium, but in a surprise move, Duhan Van Der Merwe keeps his place.

Dan Biggar continues at fly-half but he is re-joined at half-back by Ali Price in a repeat of the partnership that started the first Test. Conor Murray drops to the bench.

Chris Harris is jettisoned at outside center to make way for Bundee Aki’s promotion into the starting XV with Robbie Henshaw sliding to 13.

Warren Gatland has performed major surgery to his front row in expectation of a renewed set-piece assault from South Africa by bringing in prop Wyn Jones, who has recovered from a shoulder issue, and hooker Ken Owens.

Bowe, who played on the 2009 Tour and played under Gatland in 2013, expressed his sympathy for several players who he believes ‘haven’t had a look’.

“I would have thought that an Iain Henderson or a Tadhg Beirne could have come in there to the mix,” Bowe admitted.

“Just add a bit more beef into that back row. I would have liked to have seen Biggar and Farrell at 10 and 12; two playmakers just try and shift the ball around a bit a little.

“But going into this Test series, I felt that Gregor Townsend – who is the Scottish Head Coach – he tries to play a really exciting style of rugby.

Hamish Watson has barely featured for the Lions in South Africa


Hamish Watson has barely featured for the Lions in South Africa

“Hamish Watson, who was the Six Nations Player of the Year, hasn’t had a look in in all three of the Test matches.

“There are a number of players that I feel for that just haven’t had a chance to put their hand up.”

South Africa are missing Faf de Klerk and Pieter-Steph Du Toit from their matchday 23, whilst the influential Duane Vermuelen has not recovered in time from his ankle injury.

Yet Bowe believes Gatland’s peculiar choices should not be questioned having never lost a series as Lions Head Coach.

Bowe toured with the Lions in 2009 and then again in 2013


Bowe toured with the Lions in 2009 and then again in 2013

“I think Ali Price started in the first Test, he was brought in, he’s real electric and a livewire at scrum-half,” Bowe added. “Really zippy around the base, getting the ball away, challenging around the ruck area.

“So he was dropped for Conor Murray, who is kind of the old wise head, full of experience who was brought in to box kick it and put it into the corners.

“So, in a way, I think Conor Murray did exactly what the coaches asked of him, and now he has been dropped for the third Test.

“Again, I am kind of scratching my head with it – some decisions I am not too sure about. But Warren Gatland has a history of this, and generally they pay off.


“You think back to 2013; it was 1-1 going into the final match against Australia and he made this huge selection call, he dropped Brian O’Driscoll.

“He had never been dropped in his career, the Irish public and everybody was going mad about it. But we went out there and won that third Test, so he does generally get these right.”

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