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Hammer blow for Gatland | Lions Weekly Round-up #1

By Josh Raisey

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The British & Irish Lions Weekly round-up, brought to you by The Famous Grouse


Warren Gatland was dealt a hammer blow to his plans over the weekend when his captain and most experienced player Alun Wyn Jones was ruled out of the tour after dislocating his shoulder only seven minutes into the Lions’ opening match against Japan. The 157-cap skipper has been replaced as captain by Ireland’s Conor Murray, while fellow Welshman Adam Beard replaces him in the squad.

Less than 15 minutes after Jones left the BT Murrayfield pitch on Saturday, his compatriot Justin Tipuric was also walking down the tunnel holding his arm with what is another tour-ending shoulder injury. The flanker, who was selected for his third tour, has been replaced by Wales’ Josh Navidi in the squad.

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The Lions beat the Brave Blossoms 28-10 courtesy of tries from debutants Josh Adams, Duhan van der Merwe and Tadhg Beirne, as well as 2017 tourist Robbie Henshaw.

A day after their win in Edinburgh, the Lions set off for Johannesburg, where they will take on the Emirates Lions on Saturday. Exeter Chiefs quartet Luke Cowan-Dickie, Jonny Hill, Sam Simmonds and Stuart Hogg also arrived in the Scottish capital on Sunday following their Gallagher Premiership final loss to Harlequins at Twickenham on Saturday.

Meanwhile, South Africa cancelled training on Sunday and have moved into a bio-secure bubble after three positive Covid-19 test results were confirmed in the squad. The three players are Vincent Koch, Herschel Jantjies and Sbu Nkosi. The Springboks are set to take on Georgia on Friday.

The victory against Japan meant the Lions are now unbeaten in the opening match of their last 13 tours. The last time they lost their first match was in 1971 against Queensland, although they did draw with Argentina in 2005.

Duhan van der Merwe /PA

Conor Murray admitted that when Gatland told him he would be taking the reins as tour captain, it blindsided him. “Warren asked me just before the cap ceremony and it was surreal. I still don’t have my head around it, but it’s an unbelievable honour. It’s something that I never thought would be possible,” said Murray. “I didn’t think about it long. I said, ‘absolutely, it’ll be a massive honour. Thank you very much for this opportunity’.”

(Photo / INPHO /Dan Sheridan)

Reflecting on the loss of Alun Wyn Jones, Jonny McGinty tweeted: “Rugby needs more storylines so how about this…the Test series is drawn 1-1, just before the anthems in the 3rd test all the lights go off, The Undertaker’s music starts, flames erupt and suddenly AWJ is standing at the head of the team to lead the Lions to victory?”


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