SYDNEY (AFP) – England centre Manu Tuilagi will make his return from injury for the British and Irish Lions in their tour game against the Rebels in Melbourne on Tuesday.
Fresh from their thrilling 23-21 first Test victory over the Wallabies in Brisbane, head coach Warren Gatland has quarantined most of his Test stars ahead of next weekend's second Test in Melbourne and has named a second-string team to face the Rebels.
Blockbusting Tuilagi has not played on the Australian tour since sustaining a shoulder injury in the 22-12 win over the Queensland Reds in Brisbane on June 8. Tuilagi will partner England team-mate Brad Barritt in the centres.
Only four of the Lions first Test team -- replacements Dan Lydiate, Geoff Parling, Richard Hibbard and Dan Cole -- will start against the Rebels and England and Leicester Tigers second row Parling will lead the side.
Ireland's Sean O'Brien returns to openside flanker after two runs on the blindside, while Irish fullback Rob Kearney plays his third match of the tour and England's Owen Farrell starts at fly-half.
"I am very pleased for Geoff (Parling)," Gatland said. "For him to be part of a winning Lions Test side is very special and he has shown throughout the tour that he is one of the many leaders we have in the squad so we are looking forward to seeing him in that captaincy role.
"It is also good to get Manu (Tuilagi) back on the pitch after a frustrating injury. This is a good chance for him and others to put their hands up."
Tour manager Andy Irvine added: "We are obviously delighted to start the Test series against the Wallabies with a win but this game is very important to us in terms of keeping the momentum going.
"Those playing on Tuesday have a major part in delivering this and at the same time keeping the pressure on for Test match selection."
Lions (15-1) - Rob Kearney; Sean Maitland, Manu Tuilagi, Brad Barritt, Simon Zebo; Owen Farrell, Conor Murray; Toby Faletau, Sean O'Brien, Dan Lydiate; Geoff Parling (capt), Richie Gray; Dan Cole, Richard Hibbard, Ryan Grant.
Replacements: Rory Best, Mako Vunipola, Matt Stevens, Ian Evans, Justin Tipuric, Ben Youngs, Billy Twelvetrees, Stuart Hogg.