Giant prop Andrew Sheridan has been given the chance to complete a stunning rise into the British and Irish Lions Test team after being named in a jumbo front row for tomorrow's heavyweight showdown with the New Zealand Maori.
Sheridan is yet to start a Test for England but he will pack down alongside hooker Steve Thompson and tighthead Julian White in the heaviest Lions front row ever, weighing in at an astonishing 54 stone and 10 pounds.
After the Lions? midweek pack was shunted and wheeled all over New Plymouth by Taranaki, this bruising all-English trio could well prove to be Sir Clive Woodward?s Test selection.
But Sheridan faces a huge challenge to prove his credentials because the Maori will be no pushovers. All Black prop Carl Hayman, his opposite number, weighs in at just under 19 stone and the Maoris? powerful front row tips the scales at nearly 54 stone.
?It?s going to be a huge battle up front and it?s important to dominant in that area,? said Lions forwards coach Andy Robinson.
?We have a lot of respect for the Maori front row. Everybody has been saying that New Zealand forward play in general has not as strong as it was, but I don?t think that?s been the case.
?I think they have put a lot of attention into their set plays and as we saw in the Taranaki game, these guys are very good scrummagers.?
Sheridan came off the bench against Bay of Plenty in the Lions? first tour match and made a brutally effective impact. He may have been something of a surprise choice in the initial Lions squad, but his club captain Jason Robinson is in no doubt about how effective the 26-year-old forward could be on this tour.
Robinson said: ?Having him in the front row will certainly bolster the pack and I am sure he will be looking to impress. It is a great challenge for him.?
Paul O?Connell and Simon Shaw, who only arrived in New Zealand last week as a replacement for the injured Malcolm O?Kelly, bring added bulk to the second row while Simon Taylor slots in at No 8.
The Scot suffered a hamstring injury which sidelined him for the Lions? first three games, but he has come through rigorous training sessions this week and he will be out to challenge Martin Corry and Michael Owen for a place in the Test back row.
Shaw, Taylor and the front row are joined by winger Shane Williams, centre Gordon D?Arcy, scrum-half Matt Dawson and fly-half Stephen Jones in making their first starts on tour.
The Maori will have all their New Zealand internationals available, including open-side flanker Marty Holah, skipper Jono Gibbes and the Crusaders quartet of Leon MacDonald, Caleb Ralph, Rico Gear and Corey Flynn.