Alex Corbisiero Surprise Starter For Lions' First Test Vs Australia (PICTURES)

England prop Alex Corbisiero was the surprise inclusion in the British and Irish Lions team named for Saturday's opening Test against Australia.

Mako Vunipola was expected to start at loosehead having impressed on the tour to date, but he must settle for a place on the bench with his international team-mate Corbisiero preferred by coach Warren Gatland.

"Mako's pretty unlucky. We've looked at the weather conditions and there's a threat of showers," Gatland said. "No doubt (Australia 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."

Tom Youngs, another England front row, pipped Richard Hibbard at hooker while Jamie Heaslip of Ireland held off the challenge of Wales' Toby Faletau at number eight.

Corbisiero is a surprise starter ahead of Mako Vunipola

Apart from the inclusion of Corbisiero, who was called up from England's tour of Argentina following injuries to Cian Healy and Gethin Jenkins, the starting XV chosen by Gatland was as expected. A surprise name on the bench was Wales blindside Dan Lydiate, with Faletau or Sean O'Brien having been expected to offer back row cover.

Wales wing George North starts after passing a fitness test on his hamstring injury with compatriot Alex Cuthbert deployed on the opposite flank in the absence of Tommy Bowe, who is recovering from hand surgery.

Brian O'Driscoll and Jonathan Davies forge the centre partnership with Jamie Roberts not expected to return from treatment until next week. Jonathan Sexton and Mike Phillips are the preferred halfbacks.

Wales' Sam Warburton leads the side from openside flanker with Tom Croft reprising the role he filled in South Africa four years ago on the blindside, with Paul O'Connell and Alun-Wyn Jones picked in the second row.

British and Irish Lions XV for first Test: L Halfpenny (Wales); A Cuthbert (Wales), B O'Driscoll (Ireland), J Davies (Wales), G North (Wales); J Sexton (Ireland), M Phillips (Wales); A Corbisiero (England), T Youngs (England), A Jones (Wales), A-W Jones (Wales), P O'Connell (Ireland), T Croft (England), S Warburton (Wales, capt), J Heaslip (Ireland).

Replacements: R Hibbard (Wales), M Vunipola (England), D Cole (England), G Parling (England), D Lydiate (Wales), B Youngs (England), O Farrell (England), S Maitland (Ireland)