Gatland names eight debutants for Japan clash

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The Lions will take on Japan for the first time at Murrayfield before heading on tour to South Africa for a three-Test series with the Springboks.

Their first tour match in South Africa takes place on 4 July (AEST) against former Super Rugby side the Lions, who finished as runners-up three times in that competition.

None of the 11 England players in the Lions squad feature in the starting XV for the Japan game, which will be witnessed by 16,500 fans in Edinburgh.

Four Scotland players will make their first appearance for the Lions, with props Rory Sutherland and Zander Fagerson primed to make their bow along with flanker Hamish Watson and wing Duhan van der Merwe.

Inside Centre Bundee Aki and wing Josh Adams are set to make debuts among the backs, while back-rows Tadgh Beirne and Jack Conan will get their first taste of Lions rugby.

Captain Alun Wyn Jones will make his 21st Lions appearance.

"The crowd will give the players an enormous lift," said head coach Warren Gatland.

"We're anticipating a tough game against Japan - a side that like to play at a high tempo and shift the ball.

"We saw throughout the World Cup they have attacking threats across the park and a solid defence and set piece.

"I'm pleased with the progress we've made during our training camp in Jersey so far, but we've a long way to go.

"You can see that the squad are starting to get to grips with our game strategies, but, as always with a Lions Tour, this takes time to bed in."


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