Leigh Halfpenny and Luke Fitzgerald will both make their first ever starts for The British & Irish Lions in Saturday’s clash with The Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

Donncha O’Callaghan, meanwhile, has also been included for the first time on Tour, while the most recent arrival to the Lions squad, Gordon D’Arcy, has been included amongst the replacements.

Halfpenny only arrived in South Africa this week after being forced to stay behind when The Lions left for South Africa last month because of a troublesome thigh injury.

However, after proving his fitness on Monday, the goal-kicking Welshman has been given the nod on the right wing for the clash with The Cheetahs. He will be joined in the back three by compatriots Lee Byrne and Shane Williams.

Leinster’s Fitzgerald, meanwhile, has been named at inside centre, meaning he will form an all-Irish midfield with Munster starlet Keith Earls.

O’Callaghan’s inclusion means that there will be two Irishmen in the second row, with the Munster lock lining out alongside his provincial and international colleague, Paul O’Connell, who reclaims the captain’s armband from Brian O’Driscoll.

Elsewhere, there are also first starts for Andy Powell, Stephen Ferris, Euan Murray, Ross Ford, Harry Ellis and James Hook.

Wales number eight Powell and Ireland blindside Ferris will line up alongside Joe Worsley in a powerful-looking back row.

Scottish duo Murray and Ford are joined by England loose-head Andrew Sheridan in the front row.

Meanwhile, Ellis and Hook, both of whom impressed as replacements in Wednesday’s 74-10 rout of The Golden Lions, will start at nine and ten respectively.

Regarding his team selection head coach Ian McGeechan said: “With the selection of Donncha O’Callaghan, Leigh Halfpenny and Luke Fitzgerald in the starting XV it means that all the players will have taken the field as planned.

”We also have new arrival Gordon D’Arcy on the bench which gives him a chance to get straight into the action.

”Although there are no players backing up from the starting XV against The Golden Lions, several of the replacements who saw action in that match have been selected for their first start.

”For the Cheetahs match, Andy Powell, Ross Ford, Stephen Ferris, Euan Murray, Harry Ellis and James Hook are all in the starting XV team for the first time.

”the team includes an all-Welsh back three, an Irish combination in midfield and a Munster second-row pairing. We are also continuing to build partnerships and combinations among the players from the four nations and this is reflected in the front row where Scottish team-mates Euan Murray and Ross Ford will pack down in the front row alongside Andrew Sheridan, and the back row, where three players from three different nations will play alongside each other.”

Riki Flutey again misses out with the knee injury which now seems in danger of ending his Test hopes, while Martyn Williams has also been left out, because of a minor shoulder problem.

British & Irish Lions: L Byrne; L Halfpenny, K Earls, L Fitzgerald, S Williams; J Hook, H Ellis; A Sheridan, R Ford, E Murray, D O’Callaghan, P O’Connell, S Ferris, J Wors, A Powell.

Replacements: M Rees, A Jones, S Shaw, N Hines, M Blair, R O’Gara, G D’Arcy.

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