A British & Irish Lions tour can’t be considered the ideal place to be making your first ever professional start at fly-half, but that’s what awaits Scotland’s Stuart Hogg on Tuesday.
The pressure may be off the 1/1000 Lions as they face the specially created Combined New South Wales-Queensland Country XV at the Hunter Stadium in Newcastle, but that won’t stop a few butterflies from appearing in the stomach of their 20-year-old No. 10, who is standing in for the rested Owen Farrell and Jonathan Sexton.
Full-back Hogg has 15 caps for Scotland despite being the youngest player in the Lions party. He last played at fly-half when he was at school and so he is sure to feel nervous come kick-off in New South Wales, where he’ll be the Lions’ goalkicker.
Hogg is priced at 14/1 to score the first try of the match, whilst he is available at 4/5 to cross the line at any time.
With the Lions’ 10/11 to win with a handicap of 74 points, a smooth evening is expected despite the inexperience of Hogg, who faces a tough task to preserve the Lions’ 100% record of 17 successful kicks from 17 attempts in their two matches in Australia, where Leigh Halfpenny and Farrell have consistently added the extras.
Hogg’s lack of practice with the boot might lead some towards the lower handicap options though, with the tourists priced at 8/11 to win with a handicap of 71 points, and 8/13 to taste victory despite a minus 68 start.
Whilst the inclusion and freshness of Hogg has hit the headlines, Warren Gatland has opted for a tried and tested partnership at centre.
Jamie Roberts and captain Brian O’Driscoll are reunited, with the Welshman 10/1 to score the first try and the Irishman 7/1.
Ladbrokes are offering 4/1 that either player opens the scoring.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publication