SPORT
30/05/2013 07:27 BST

Paul O'Connell To Captain Lions Vs Barbarians (VIDEO)

Paul O'Connell will seal his comeback from serious injury when he captains the British and Irish Lions in Saturday's tour opener at Hong Kong Stadium.

Only a few months ago, the 33-year-old Ireland lock did not expect to be part of what is now his third Lions mission.

But with tour skipper Sam Warburton resting a knee injury, 2009 Lions skipper O'Connell takes over as leader against the Barbarians.

"I suppose around Christmas, and even two or three months after Christmas, I certainly thought I wouldn't be here, so to be here and now captaining the side is fantastic," said O'Connell, who was laid low by groin and back problems.

paul oconnell

O'Connell is a veteran of two Lions tours

"I am delighted. It's a very exciting occasion. We've had a few great weeks, and it has gone up another level since the Leicester boys and the Leinster boys came in.

"I am disappointed, obviously, for Sam. He has run a great ship the last few weeks."

Solitary Irishman O'Connell will take charge of a team containing nine Welshmen - including the entire back-row of Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric and Toby Faletau - three Scots and two English.

British and Irish Lions (versus the Barbarians): S Hogg (Scotland); A Cuthbert (Wales), J Davies (Wales), J Roberts (Wales), S Maitland (Scotland); O Farrell (England), M Phillips (Wales); M Vunipola (England), R Hibbard (Wales), A Jones (Wales), R Gray (Scotland), P O'Connell (Ireland, capt), D Lydiate (Wales), J Tipuric (Wales), T Faletau (Wales).

Replacements: T Youngs (England), C Healy (Ireland), M Stevens (England), A-W Jones (Wales), J Heaslip (Ireland), C Murray (Ireland), J Sexton (Ireland), G North (Wales).