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Lions give an update on two minor injuries that needed injections

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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Warren Gatland has reported a largely clean bill of health for his touring Lions heading into their first match in South Africa this Saturday, the only issues being the niggles affecting Anthony Watson and Dan Biggar as well as the progress of Luke Cowan-Dickie through the return to play protocols following a concussion. 

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The Lions boss has changed 14 of his starting XV for the game versus the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg, winger Josh Adams the only survivor from the team that began last Saturday’s match versus Japan in Edinburgh. It was always the intention of Gatland to shake things up as his aim is to give each of the 37 Lions players with him in South Africa a start in the opening three games.

Following his selection for this Saturday’s match, it leaves ten players – Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly and Gareth Davies in the backs, Mako Vunipola, Cowan-Dickie, Zander Fagerson, Adam Beard, Josh Navidi, Tom Curry and Sam Simmonds – still waiting for a first start that should come against the Sharks next Wednesday. 

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In the meantime, Gatland has reported that nearly everyone is in good health following the terrible start to the tour which resulted in the loss of Lions skipper Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric who were replaced by Beard and Navidi. 

“The boys are pretty good,” said the Lions coach. “They are a bit sore after the Japan game which you expect a few knocks and stuff, but pretty much everyone is good really. Anthony Watson had a sore toe which we injected and Dan Biggar had a knee which had a cortisone as well so just a couple of minor complaints but nothing serious.”

As for Exeter hooker Cowan-Dickie, who painfully got his head the wrong side of a Gallagher Premiership final tackle last Saturday, Gatland added: “When I first asked him how he was he said he had never had a knock like that before, so he has done all the return to play protocols and he is happy to take a part in training and he is another real competitor.”

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Cowan-Dickie will provide cover from the bench this Saturday in Johannesburg but he is poised to start the following game against the Sharks as Gatland is enjoying the level competition for places in his squad. “The exciting thing from a coaching point of view is just the amount of competition we have got within the squad,” he said.

“If you look at who has played the first couple of games and then who hasn’t played and will probably play against the Sharks, you can probably see the rest of the players in the squad get an opportunity and then you will see who the loose forward trio will be for next week, so it’s different players and players having their chance. It’s going to come around pretty thick and fast.  

“We spoke always about giving everyone an opportunity in the first three games. Josh Adams is the one who doubles up and we have made 14 changes. Guys are starting to gel together. There were aspects of the Japan game we were very happy with, particularly the first half. They played a different style and put us under pressure, but the boys have looked pretty sharp in the last couple of training days.”

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Lions give an update on two minor injuries that needed injections

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