Warren Gatland reverts to type with Lions XV as he seeks "invaluable" qualities

Matt Dawson was not surprised to see Warren Gatland revert to type with his Lions selections after he sprung a few surprises in his First Test XV.

South Africa lie in wait in Cape Town on Saturday and their 'A' side gave the Lions a glimpse of what to expect when they played last week.

Gatland has never been shy to make a big call, famously dropping Brian O'Driscoll for the decisive test in 2013.

He also omitted tour captain Sam Warburton in the opening test against New Zealand four years ago.

Gatland has opted to start Elliott Daly at 13 despite his season with Saracens in the Championship and also picked Courtney Lawes, who struggled with injury earlier this year, at 6.

Dawson, a successful Lion back in 1997, believes the pairs big match experience has counted in their favour with Gatland all too aware of the challenges that lay ahead.

He said: "The credit in the bank, the individuals who can deal with the big match temperaments. It is invaluable. I am fairly sure there will be two or three selections where we all go 'Oh, okay'.

"There will be something we can't see or can't get to grips with because we don't see them training everyday.

"Where he (Gatland) is like 'nah, he is ready to play in this test and ramp it up'.

"I think Gats will understand the importance of having experience as opposed to having in form forward thinking players."

Daly's selection at outside centre means he will have to assist his winger in stopping Cheslin Kolbe, arguably the world's finest winger.

The Toulouse star showed glimpses of his quality when South Africa 'A' beat the Lions.

"Is there anyone in the world who can handle him? One-on-one I don't think anyone can stop him," Dawson added.

"It is going to be how does the winger defend with the 13 and that will be crucial for Gatland.

"I thought he would go with Daly and hopefully he can tie up that 13 and wing area in defence with his pace and footwork."

Marcus Smith, an injury call-up for Finn Russell, did his chances no harm with an impressive showing in the recent win over the Stormers.

Fresh from a Premiership winning campaign with Harlequins, the young fly-half has been backed to do plenty of damage if his forwards can get him going the right way.

Dawson said: "If the Lions are getting decent ball then Smith is going to be a very, very difficult man to stop because he'll be hand full."

Lions XV: Hogg; A Watson, Daly, Henshaw, Van Der Merwe; Biggar, Price; W Jones, Cowan-Dickie, Furlong, Itoje, AW Jones (capt), Lawes, Curry, Conan.

Replacements: Owens, Sutherland, Sinckler, Beirne, H Watson, Murray, Farrell, L Williams.

Ahead of the British and Irish Lions Tour of South Africa test matches starting this weekend, streaming service NOW has enlisted Lions’ legend Matt Dawson and former Springboks’ flanker Francois Louw to compete in the ultimate cultural TEST match – Braai versus BBQ.

The video series will see four episodes of Braai vs BBQ going live on NOW Twitter and Facebook channels daily from 21st – 24th July.

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