Alun Wyn Jones had a message for his Lions team-mates after Saturday’s sobering second Test defeat against South Africa.

"What I do know is that Gats will make changes," the skipper said following the 27-9 setback in Cape Town.

"He won’t be afraid of that."

The question is how many alterations will Warren Gatland make.

Does he just make obvious calls in areas such as the back three where the tourists’ weaknesses were so glaringly exposed by the Springboks?

Or does he bring out a long knife and hack away at multiple parts of his team?

Whatever he does, Gatland will know he has to get it right with the Lions now in win-or-bust territory after their failure to seal the deal at the weekend. The selection will be up there with the most important of his career.

Read more: South African media claim Dan Biggar deserves an Oscar and TMO 'petrified'

Here, we take a look at the team Gatland is most likely to pick.

15. Liam Williams

South Africa like to kick, yet the Lions left out their most secure player under the high ball.

Call that a strange decision.

It was a bit like Australia parking Shane Warne in the stands for a Test on a raging turner in Mumbai back in the day.

Williams for Stuart Hogg should be a straightforward call that will not require an age to make.

The Scarlet should have been in at full-back from the start for the Tests.

He’s the best the Lions have under the high ball and his courage inspires those around him.

14. Anthony Watson

There might be a temptation to wield the axe here as well, with Watson having an uncharacteristically poor game in the second Test, failing to deal with steepling kicks, making handling errors and giving away a penalty.

On the plus side, he’s otherwise played well on tour and did show glimpses in attack.

If he loses his place to Louis Rees-Zammit he couldn’t complain, but probably won’t.

13. Robbie Henshaw

The Lions centres have been outplayed, with Lukhanyo Am and Damien de Allende showing why many view them as the best midfield pairing in the world. They’ve been strong going forward and uncompromising in defence.

For the Lions, Henshaw has been the best of a not overly impressive bunch.

He didn’t miss a hit on Saturday but maybe could be more usefully employed wider out as the Lions look to pose different problems for the Springboks.

12. Bundee Aki

Hasn’t been seen since the defeat by South Africa A on July 14, with shares appearing to have been sold in him.

But he didn’t do that badly in the 17-13 loss, making more carries — 11 — than any other centre on the field and making ground, too.

Aki is also good at stripping the ball in the tackle, is physical and doesn’t make many mistakes.

Picking him alongside his Ireland team-mate Henshaw would give the Lions a tried-and-tested combination.

11. Josh Adams

Another player who should have been in the Test XV from the start.

In some ways Duhan van der Merwe was unfortunate on Saturday in that the Lions barely got any ball to him in attack, as was the case in the opening Test.

But he didn’t shine in other areas.

Quite the reverse.

Indiscipline hampered him and he could easily have been on the wrong end of two yellow cards instead of just the one. At 6ft 4in, he should have ruled the skies, but he didn’t and was part of a back three that looked nervy and unsure of themselves.

Adams has played just one game since July 7.

Not only does he run hard, chase strongly and score tries, he also makes few errors and and achieves turnovers.

10. Dan Biggar

There have been calls for a change at No. 10, but one of Biggar’s strong points is his ability to catch high balls and if the Lions are to triumph in the final Test they have to win the aerial battle.

He was steady in Saturday’s game, his task made more difficult by the way the Lions pack struggled at scrum and lineout in the second half. Previously, he’d come up with some decent work with the boot.

Would anyone else in the party have done any better at fly-half?

It would be a surprise if Gatland axed him.

Read more: Dan Biggar keeps promise he made to small Welsh club

9. Conor Murray

Murray’s tour has stubbornly refused to ignite, so there isn’t much doubt the selectors will consider whether to recall Ali Price.

There again, on his day Murray has one of the best kicking games in world rugby and there’s a case for believing it wouldn’t be especially clever to sideline him ahead of a clash where the aerial battle will again be key.

Capped 96 times, he also has priceless Test experience which could come in handy for next weekend.

1. Wyn Jones

The best display by a prop on this tour came from Wyn Jones against South Africa A, when he scrummaged strongly against Trevor Nyakane, forcing two penalties out of the Springbok Test prop, and made a major impact around the field.

Injury took him out of contention for the opening game of the series, otherwise he’d be a Test Lion by now.

Mako Vunipola performed well in the loose on Saturday but the Lions were under pressure in the scrums and need to address those problems. If Jones is fit he could start.

2. Jamie George

A World Cup starter who has looked dynamic around the field when he’s had his chance, which hasn’t been that often, with George not starting since the game with the Sharks on July 10.

In George’s favour is that he has missed his targets with only two throws from 32 on tour so far. He also has a 95 percent success rate as a tackler and has made ground with his carries.

Just maybe he could pep the Lions in a key area.

3. Tadhg Furlong

You know it’s a tough scrummaging day at the office when a top set-piece operator like Furlong coughs up a penalty.

That said, he’s still the best No. 3 the Lions have.

Making a change here would smack of panic.

4. Maro Itoje

Not quite as effective as the week before, but not bad, either.

He’s been one of the Lions’ best players on the tour.

The tourists won’t win by leaving out Itoje.

They'll be hoping the citing commissioner doesn't frown upon the first half incident which captured Itoje's knee on the neck of De Allende.

5. Alun Wyn Jones

Did what he could to steady the ship on Saturday.

In defence, with 15 tackles, Jones was outstanding.

There’s talk about Iain Henderson coming into the picture, but the Irishman hasn’t been at his very best on this trip. The player they could have done with on the bench in the second Test was the 6ft 8in Adam Beard, to counter the Boks’ height advantage in the lineout.

But the captain offers so much around the field.

It’s hard to foresee Gatland picking a side without him.

6. Courtney Lawes

He should still have some credit in the bank after his superlative effort in the first Test.

Lawes wasn’t quite so good in round two but he still made his tackles, even if he couldn’t break any this time.

The selectors will think long and hard about picking the multi-skilled Tadhg Beirne, mind, with his ability to achieve turnovers and charge around the field.

7. Tom Curry

Not overly conspicuous over the weekend, and could pay the price, with the more physical Hamish Watson waiting in the wings.

That said, Curry was part of a pack that hit major problems after the break. He played well in the first game of the series and is highly regarded.

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In the space of 80 minutes, he hasn’t become a bad player.

The probability is, then, that he’ll be retained.

8. Taulupe Faletau

Jack Conan has had a fine tour, making 43 tackles without a single miss and carrying strongly.

But he was shut down in the second Test, one of many Lions who couldn’t achieve go-forward.

Faletau didn’t exactly rip up every in the orchard in the 20 minutes he was on, but he has a high ceiling to his game and is player capable of delivering in the monumentally important match that awaits the Lions.

Possibly, Gatland may feel it’s worth placing his trust in a player who has never let him down.


Luke Cowan-Dickie, Mako Vunipola, Kyle Sinckler, Adam Beard, Tadhg Beirne, Hamish Watson, Ali Price, Owen Farrell.

A six-two split here. Ken Owens could slip back after a couple of lineout errors, while Adam Beard has to come into the 23 if the Lions are to ask different questions of the Springboks at the lineout.

Tadhg Beirne has been underused in the Tests so far and Gatland could bring him onto the field earlier, with Hamish Watson supplying extra power.