Lions 2013: Tourists set for Australia showdown

 

AUSTRALIA V BRITISH AND IRISH LIONS, THIRD TEST

  • Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
  • Date: Saturday, 6 July
  • Kick-off: 11:00 BST (20:00 local)

Coverage: Live text commentary on BBC Sport website, updates on BBC Radio 5 live

The British and Irish Lions meet Australia on Saturday in the deciding Test knowing victory will end their 16-year wait for a series win.

More than 30,000 fans  have travelled to Sydney to cheer on the visitors.

Four-time former Lions head coach Sir Ian McGeechan has described the meeting at ANZ Stadium as the Lions' "biggest match" in nearly two decades.

Previous deciders in three-Test Lions series

1910: Lions lost 5-21 v South Africa

1989: Lions won 19-18 v Australia

1993: Lions lost 13-30 v New Zealand

2001: Lions lost 23-29 v Australia

Build-up to the game has been dominated by head coach Warren Gatland's call to drop veteran centre Brian O'Driscoll.

After spending part of the week relaxing in the warmer climes of Noosa in Queensland, the Lions will take to the field with the temperature set at a milder 15C.

The Test series is currently tied at one apiece after the hosts replied with a 16-15 second Test victory following the Lions' 23-21 win in the opener.

O'Driscoll had been favourite to be named captain in the absence of Sam Warburton after the flanker picked up a hamstring injury in the defeat at Melbourne's Etihad Stadium.

Instead, the 34-year-old was one of six players to make way as Gatland looked to prevent a repeat of the toothless display in which his side failed to make a single line break last weekend.

"When I go back to the UK and say 'Did I make the decision because I believed it was right, or did I make it because it was the right political decision?', I can put my hand on my heart and say I think it is the right rugby decision," Gatland said.

O'Driscoll decision brave - McGeechan

In O'Driscoll's absence, Jamie Roberts - one of a record-equalling 10 Welshmen selected - will be reunited with international team-mate Jonathan Davies in the centres after he recovered from the hamstring injury that kept him out of the first two Tests.

For Australia, head coach Robbie Deans has made only one change by bringing in flanker George Smith for his 111th international appearance.

The 32-year-old - who made his last Test appearance in 2009 and retired from international rugby the following year - played in the 2001 Sydney meeting between the sides.

He will be hoping for history to repeat itself, as 12 years ago, the Aussies recovered from an opening Test loss to claim their first ever series win over the Lions with a thrilling 29-23 final victory at the same ground - then called Stadium Australia.

"To have achieved what George has throughout his career, and return to play at the highest level, after such a long break, is a testament to the quality of the man," Deans said.

The Lions last won a Test series in 1997, when they triumphed 2-1 in South Africa.