PROP Alex Corbisiero's marathon 30-hour, five-flight journey from England's tour of Argentina to join the British and Irish Lions injury-hit tour of Australia has certainly been worth it.
Corbisiero, who was called up as replacement for injured Irishman Cian Healy, is one of eight players to make their Test debut for the Lions in the series opener against the Wallabies tomorrow.
Mako Vunipola had been expected to start ahead of Corbisiero having impressed on the tour to-date, but will start off the bench.
Gatland said Corbisiero's superior scrummaging skills were crucial to his selection, conceding he had concerns that the Wallabies may have targeted Vunipola in the set-piece.
"Mako's pretty unlucky. We've looked at the weather conditions and there's a threat of showers" Gatland said.
"No doubt Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has looked at Mako technically at scrum time. Mako coming off the bench will give us impetus, but Alex is better technically and will give us the edge in the scrum.
"Alex might also prove to be a better combination with Tom Youngs and Adam Jones, but there's no doubt Mako will have an impact.".
Veteran Irishman Brian O'Driscoll will partner Welshman Jonathan Davies in the centres, the Lions having been unable to play Jamie Roberts (hamstring) and Manu Tuilagi (shoulder) because of injury.
The other seven debutants include the captain, Welsh flanker Sam Warburton, as well as Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert, George North, Jonathan Davies, Jonathan Sexton, and Tom Youngs.
British and Irish Lions
- Leigh Halfpenny
- Alex Cuthbert
- Brian O'Driscoll
- Jonathan Davies
- George North
- Jonny Sexton
- Mike Phillips
- Jamie Heaslip
- Sam Warburton (c)
- Tom Croft
- Paul O'Connell
- Alun Wyn Jones
- Adam Jones
- Tom Youngs
- Alex Corbisiero
Reserves: Richard Hibbard, Mako Vunipola, Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Dan Lydiate, Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell, Sean Maitland.
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