Read and match preview of the Lions v Australia and watch a live stream.
Where: Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
When: 11:00 (BST)
Watch live: Click here to watch on NowTV with Sky!
The British and Irish Lions are poised to secure their first series in 16 years while the Wallabies have their backs to the wall and must win Saturday’s pivotal second Test in Melbourne.
Warren Gatland’s Lions go in with the edge after clinging on to a 23-21 victory in last week’s Brisbane Test when Kurtley Beale missed a kickable penalty in the final minute.
The Lions last won a series in South Africa in 1997 and the chief coach has shaken up a winning side in a bid to wrap up the series ahead of the July 6 final Test in Sydney.
Gatland has made five changes, while Australia counterpart Robbie Deans has made two enforced changes and kept faith in James O’Connor at flyhalf despite his difficult night in the first Test defeat.
Gatland was forced to switch two of his front five because of injuries with England’s Mako Vunipola and Geoff Parling promoted to take the places of Alex Corbisiero in the front row and lock Paul O’Connell.
The coach has also added Wales flanker Dan Lydiate to the back row in place of Tom Croft, while Ben Youngs replaces experienced scrum half Mike Phillips, who has a knee injury.
Tom and Ben Youngs will become the first brothers to start together in a Test for the Lions since Scotland’s Gavin and Scott Hastings in the third Test of the 1989 series against the Wallabies.
Ireland’s Tommy Bowe returns on the right wing for Brisbane try scorer Alex Cuthbert after making a three-week recovery from a broken hand that required surgery.
“One or two changes were forced on us, and we’ve got a couple of players coming back from injury, but it just shows how strong the squad is and that we have a huge amount of competition,” Gatland said.
“It is about picking the best team to do a job for us. We can win this series by winning on Saturday and that’s where our whole focus needs to be. Everything for us is about Saturday night.”
Deans, whose Wallabies’ coaching future may hinge on the series outcome, brought in Beale for concussed Berrick Barnes at fullback and Joe Tomane for sidelined winger Digby Ioane.
But Deans points to the availability of Christian Lealiifano as key for his side’s chances after the ACT Brumbies’ inside-centre was knocked out in the opening tackle of last week’s Test and was carried off.
The Wallabies also had further disruption with Barnes and Pat McCabe stretchered off and injuries to Adam Ashley-Cooper and Ioane.
“It was a pretty challenging circumstance last week. It’s not great to get injured in your first outing. Christian will get the chance to experience a lot more this week and we’ll get the benefit of that,” Deans said.
“I thought the boys did incredibly well under the circumstances, particularly as it was a domino effect that went from there to the extent where we had to play a forward in the backline. So for the team to work their way through and put themselves in the position to be able to win that game was remarkable.
“Clearly this week we’ve had the benefit of some more prep and hopefully we’ll have a lit bit more fluency in our game and Christian will be a big part of that.”
On the last two tours to Australia, in 1989 and 2001, the side that has won the first Test has gone on to lose the series. Lions captain Sam Warburton does not want history to repeat itself.
“The talk around the players has been making sure we finish it this weekend,” Warburton said.
“There has been no complacency thinking that we’ve got a week off because there is another opportunity next week.
“Momentum would completely swing if Australia won. They’d be going into another home game to finish after winning a game.”
Australia – Kurtley Beale; Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Christian Lealiifano, Joe Tomane; James O’Connor, Will Genia; Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Ben Mowen; James Horwill, Kane Douglas; Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Benn Robinson
Replacements: Saia Faingaa, James Slipper, Sekope Kepu, Rob Simmons, Liam Gill, Nick Phipps, Rob Horne, Jesse Mogg
Lions – Leigh Halfpenny; Tommy Bowe, Brian O’Driscoll, Jonathan Davies, George North; Jonathan Sexton, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs, Adam Jones; Alun Wyn Jones, Geoff Parling; Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Ryan Grant, Dan Cole, Tom Croft, Sean O’Brien, Conor Murray, Owen Farrell, Alex Cuthbert.
Referee: Craig Joubert (RSA)