In one of five changes made by head coach Warren Gatland, Alex Cuthbert drops to the bench as Bowe – who fractured his hand three weeks ago – comes into the right wing slot, capping a remarkable recovery.
The Ulsterman missed Ireland’s Six Nations campaign in its entirety due to a knee injury but he fought his way back to fitness for selection for the Lions tour, only to suffer the hand injury.
But having returned in time for the second Test, Bowe, who will wear a hurling glove as protection against the Wallabies, admits he’s been through the mill over the last few weeks.
“It has been a real roller-coaster few weeks and I’ve done everything and anything to try to get it fixed,” said Bowe, who started all three of the Lions Tests against South Africa in 2009.
“To go from seeing the fracture put up on the board, the X-Ray, to be shown the fracture spiral right through the bone and be told that that’s pretty much my tour over to being told by the surgeon that he’s had guys come back within three weeks was emotional.
“But that enabled me to get back for selection for the second Test. Then I had to go through all the physio and everything else to try and get myself back and available – it has been a bit of a roller coaster.
“But these are the sort of games that you want to be involved in. You play your career in rugby to play in big games. Getting injured is the hardest part of professional sport.
“Whenever you get picked to play in a match like this it makes it all worth it – as long as you win. That’s the big thing and that’s the motivation for us this weekend.”
Lions team: Leigh Halfpenny, Tommy Bowe, Brian O’Driscoll, Jonathan Davies, George North, Jonathan Sexton, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs, Adam Jones, Alun Wyn Jones, Geoff Parling, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton (c), Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Ryan Grant, Dan Cole, Tom Croft, Sean O’Brien, Conor Murray, Owen Farrell, Alex Cuthbert.