Tour captain Jones will captain the Lions after recovering from a shoulder dislocation suffered in the tourists’ 28-10 win over Japan at Murrayfield Stadium just 24 days ago.
In doing so, the Welsh Lock will join an illustrious roster of Lions legends who have made 10 or more test appearances, including Gareth Edwards (10), Graham Price (12), Mike Gibson (12) Dickie Jeeps (13) and Willie-John. McBride (17).
Alun Wyn Jones returns to British & Irish Lions Tour
Jones, who is the first to play 10 Tests for the famous touring team in the professional era, will be joined in second place by Maro Itoje, who claims his fourth consecutive Lions Test selection.
Elsewhere, Welsh mainstay Wyn Jones and England hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie will win their first cap alongside Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong in the front row.
England flanker Courtney Lawes folds to the blind flank to win her third Lions Test cap, having won her previous two off the bench in the second and third Tests in New Zealand in 2017.
Lawes is joined in the back row by England teammate Tom Curry, who is named on the open side, while Irish No.8 Jack Conan rounds out the field as he makes his Test Lions debut.
After impressing against the DHL Stormers last Saturday, Scottish scrum half Ali Price joins No 10 Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) in the back berths.
Irish center Robbie Henshaw, who made his comeback after a hamstring injury last weekend against the Stormer, team up with England’s Elliot Daly in midfield.
Lions pass Stormers in final warm-up game
Anthony Watson wins his fourth Lions Test cap as he takes his place on the wing against Scotland’s Duhan van der Merwe, with international teammate Stuart Hogg rounding out the squad at the back.
The starting XV includes three Scots for the first time since the 1997 tour of South Africa when current Lions assistant coach Gregor Townsend was named alongside Alan Tait and Tom Smith for the first and second tests .
“In my four tours as a Lions coach, this was by far the most difficult test selection I’ve been involved in,” said Gatland.
“We couldn’t have asked for more from the players so far; they all raised their hands and made choosing a starting XV incredibly difficult. In truth, we would have been happy with a number of different combinations out of the 23, however, we are very happy with which side we settled on.
“We know what we’re up against on Saturday. It will be a showdown, there is no doubt about it. We will have to face physically and be ready to go from the first whistle. When we played SA ‘A’ last week, we probably took a little too long to get into the game, something we can’t afford to do again this weekend.
“We have to make sure we play in the right areas of the pitch, don’t give them easy territory and take our chances when they come.
“While the stands will be empty at Cape Town Stadium, we know that Lions fans from all home countries will be cheering us on at home. We will do our best to achieve victory.
The highly anticipated clash against the reigning world champions is the first of three Castle Lager Lions Series Test matches to be broadcast live and exclusively on Sky Sports.
SOUTH AFRICA v BRITISH AND IRISH LIONS
Saturday, July 24, 2021
Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
Kick-off: 5:00 p.m. (BST)
15. Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs, Scotland) # 783
14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) # 816
13. Elliot Daly (Saracens, England) # 822
12. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) # 824
11. Duhan van der Merwe (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) # 841
10. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) # 821
9. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) # 843
1. Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales) # 842
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England) # 851
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) # 818
4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, England) # 825
5. Alun Wyn Jones – captain (Ospreys, Wales) # 761
6. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England) # 826
7. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England) # 853
8. Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) # 839
16. Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales) # 829
17. Rory Sutherland (Worcester Warriors, Scotland) # 840
18. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, England) # 814
19. Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland) # 838
20. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) # 847
21. Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland) # 790
22. Owen Farrell (Saracens, England) # 780
23. Liam Williams (Scarlets, Wales) # 833