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Injured Lions make swift return ahead of first Test

By Josh Raisey

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Warren Gatland almost has an entire squad to chose from as Finn Russell is the only player ruled out of the British & Irish Lions’ first Test against South Africa in Cape Town this Saturday.


The Scotland fly-half is still rehabbing an Achilles injury, which led to Marcus Smith’s call-up to the squad and debut against the DHL Stormers on Saturday.

“All the boys are pretty good apart from Finn, so everyone’s coming through and they’re all available for selection,” defence coach Steve Tandy said.

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RugbyPass OFFLOAD | Episode 38 | Ryan Wilson, Simon Zebo & Max Lahiff on the Lions, Oz nights out, punch-ups and prank calling Finn Russell
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RugbyPass OFFLOAD | Episode 38 | Ryan Wilson, Simon Zebo & Max Lahiff on the Lions, Oz nights out, punch-ups and prank calling Finn Russell

Having come through the match against the Stormers unscathed following a return from a shoulder injury, captain Alun Wyn Jones is also available for selection.

Liam Williams left the field in the opening minutes against South Africa A on Wednesday with a head injury but is due to complete the return to play protocols for concussion today. Meanwhile, Wyn Jones picked up a shoulder injury and Anthony Watson looked in distress at one point on Wednesday, but played the full 80 minutes.

Dan Biggar has also been an injury concern over the past week, having pulled out just before the South Africa A match after rolling his ankle. However, Gatland did not seem particularly phased by the Welshman’s injury last week.

Following an impressive display against the Stormers, Gatland now has the challenge of selection 23 players to face the Springboks at Cape Town Stadium.


“I’ve started to get some names in my head and started thinking about combinations. We’re getting closer and we’ll sit down and have a look at the Stormers game and talk to the medics about all the players,” Gatland said.

“From a fitness perspective we’re pretty good, so we’ll start thinking about getting those combinations together. That’s in the next 48 or 72 hours when we’ll go through that process. There will be some robust debate, I would presume.

“I don’t go in with preconceived ideas. I try to let that develop and allow the players to have that opportunity to put their hands up.”

Tandy recently echoed Gatland’s thoughts, saying: “There are going to be massive decisions. There are going to be a lot of unlucky players.


“We had an initial selection meeting last night (Sunday) which was a long one, covering all bases, because a lot of people have put their hands up. It’s a great place for us as coaches to be.

“There will be bitter disappointment, but I believe that in this squad there’s such a tight connection that everyone will be geared up to winning that first Test, whether you are in the 23 or not.”


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