Ospreys trio get midweek start

Hibbard, Evans and Tipuric start v Combined Country XV, Alun Wyn on bench

Warren Gatland's experimentation in the build up to selection for the first Test against the Qantas Wallabies will continue in Newcastle in the fourth game of the tour when he gives Sean Maitland a run at full back and Stuart Hogg a go at outside half.

But perhaps the biggest step is the reunification of the 2009 test centre pairing of Brian O'Driscoll and Jamie Roberts 11 days out from the first game against the Qantas Wallabies.

The two midfield aces linked superbly in South Africa in the four matches they played together, including the first and second Tests, and get the chance to extend their run together by proving they haven't lost any of the understanding that caused the Springboks so many problems.

The game against the Combined NSW / Queensland Country XV will be a return to the standard of the opening two matches and there seems no likelihood of anything other than another major win for the Lions. The local side will only have had a handful of training sessions together and, despite the presence of 12 players with Super Rugby experience, they aren't expected to pose much of a threat.

While Gatland has asked Alex Cuthbert, Hogg and Richie Gray to back up from Saturday's attritional win over the Queensland Reds, he has also given his two new props, Alex Corbisiero and Ryan Grant, an immediate chance to shine.

Both players, called out to Australia to take over from the injured Cian Healy and Gethin Jenkins, have been told they have a shot at a Test place and two of them and Mako Vunipola will be in the matchday 23 in Brisbane.

"Some players have been asked to back up from the weekend and we will be asking some others to do the same against the Waratahs on Saturday. We always said Stuart Hogg would act as cover for No 10 and we need to look after the two regular outside halves and give them the chance to have a rest,"
said Gatland.

"Johnny Sexton had a scan on his hamstring after the game against the Reds and it showed there was no tear. He was just a little bit tight.

"Last night against the Reds was a tough game - exactly what we were looking for. The idea for Tuesday is to look at some other combinations.

"The tour is probably about two matches too short for us. We'd like to have a few more games in the build up to the first Test. We will have to start thinking about formulating the Test side, particularly the majority of the side, for the Waratahs."

The Waratahs picked up a morale boosting win over the Western Force, 28-13 in Perth, but will be 13 players down at the weekend when they host the Lions in Sydney. It means the Lions have the chance to extend their winning run to five games this week to build confidence before the Test series.

Expect another points fest in Newcastle and a few more inklings into the likely Test team when the team to take on Michael Cheika's Waratahs is announced later in the week. The business end of the 125th anniversary tour is about to be upon us.

Lions team:

Sean Maitland, Alex Cuthbert, Brian O'Driscoll, Jamie Roberts, George North; Stuart Hogg, Conor Murray; Alex Corbisiero, Richard Hibbard, Dan Cole, Richie Gray, Ian Evans, Sean O'Brien, Justin Tipuric, Jamie Heaslip.

Rory Best, Ryan Grant, Matt Stevens, Alun Wyn Jones, Toby Faletau, Mike Phillips, Jonathan Davies, Leigh Halfpenny.