Alun Wyn Jones to captain Lions team as Brian O'Driscoll misses out

Warren Gatland

Warren Gatland has chosen 10 Wales players for Saturday's final Test against Australia in Sydney with the 134-cap Brian O'Driscoll among the casualties.

Alun Wyn Jones will lead a side containing seven changes, one positional, from last weekend's defeat.

O'Driscoll, who is on his fourth and last Lions tour, was the leading candidate to replace the injured captain Sam Warburton, not least because he was in charge of the team in 2005 and has worn the armband twice on this tour. But with the bid for the series being overwhelmingly Welsh, Jones – who led Wales in Italy in 2009 under Gatland but has been overlooked since for the permanent position – is charged with invoking the spirit that took the men in red to the Six Nations title against England in Cardiff last March.

Jonathan Davies is moved to outside-centre to accommodate Jamie Roberts, who missed the first two Tests because of a hamstring injury. Mike Phillips returns at scrum-half after missing Melbourne because of a knee complaint, while the front and back rows are beefed up.

Alex Corbisiero returns at prop, Richard Hibbard starts his first Test at hooker, while in the back row Sean O'Brien takes over from Warburton on the open-side with Toby Faletau ousting Jamie Heaslip at No8. Geoff Parling held on in the second row, although Richie Gray has been promoted to the bench.

The emphasis will be on power with Roberts, Phillips, Hibbard, Faletau and O'Brien all giving ball-carrying options to a side that did not make one line break in Melbourne. The emphasis will be on getting over the gainline and moving the ball quickly: Justin Tipuric and Manu Tuilagi are on the bench to offer thrust in the final quarter, a period when Australia have been the stronger in the series.

"It all comes down to Saturday," said Gatland. "Winner takes all. We know we can leave nothing in the tank and that only a complete performance will get us across the line. Picking this team was not easy and ultimately with several players available after recovering from injury the head overruled the heart in many selection decisions.

"It has been a challenging tour and we have had our fair share of injuries but we always knew that would be the case. Brian O'Driscoll is a great player and has had a wonderful career but for the final Test in Sydney we just felt Jamie Roberts's presence offered us something more. Mike Phillips and Alex Corbisiero were first Test selections and would probably have played in the second Test if not for injury. Richard Hibbard, Toby Faletau and Sean O'Brien have also earned their starting places."

Davies has been preferred to O'Driscoll, reward for his form here, although the Irishman formed a successful partnership with Roberts in South Africa four years ago. If Melbourne proves to be the end of his 14-year international career, it would be an anticlimactic way for one of the outstanding players of any era to exit.

Gatland has never been one for sentiment. Selection this tour has appeared to be a collaborative process but Saturday's team, with the exception of Parling, the leader of the line-out in the second Test, has the New Zealander's stamp. The Lions will take on Australia physically and look to grind them down, knowing that the referee Romain Poite will allow them to scrummage and be less fussy than the two previous referees at the breakdown.

"The Lions will be different with Roberts," said the Australia flanker Ben Mowen. "He offers a different threat with ball in hand to what we have come up against so far, but our defensive organisation is one of the biggest strengths of our game and we always back ourselves."

The Test is a sell-out with the Australian Rugby Union trying to persuade the ANZ Stadium authorities to add some more seats to take the capacity up to 84,000.

"The demand is incredible and 390,000 fans will have paid to have watched the Lions this tour," said Bill Pulver, the ARU chief executive. "That is 30% up on 2001 and shows how popular this series is."

British and Irish Lions team to play Australia

15-Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), 14-Tommy Bowe (Ireland), 13-Jonathan Davies (Wales), 12-Jamie Roberts (Wales), 11-George North (Wales), 10-Jonathan Sexton (Ireland), 9-Mike Phillips (Wales), 8-Toby Faletau (Wales), 7-Sean O'Brien (Ireland), 6-Dan Lydiate (Wales), 5-Geoff Parling (England), 4-Alun Wyn Jones (captain, Wales), 3-Adam Jones (Wales), 2-Richard Hibbard (Wales), 1-Alex Corbisiero (England)

Replacements - 16-Tom Youngs (England), Mako Vunipola (England), 18-Dan Cole (England), 19-Richie Gray (Scotland), 20-
Justin Tipuric (Wales), 21-Conor Murray (Ireland), 22-Owen Farrell (England), 23-Manu Tuilagi (England)

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Paul Rees in Sydney, for guardian.co.uk on Wednesday 3rd July 2013 03.49 Europe/London

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image: © National Assembly for Wales