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'We're keeping open mind': Jones targets miracle Lions return

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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Warren Gatland has revealed that injured skipper Alun Wyn Jones is confident of making a miracle recovery from his dislocated shoulder and linking up with the Lions in South Africa to play a part in their three-game Test series versus the Springboks which begins on July 24 in Cape Town. 

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Jones was scratched from the tour following the injury he sustained at a seventh-minute ruck versus Japan at Murrayfield last Saturday and Gatland ruled his skipper out of the tour post-game, calling Adam Beard into the squad and giving the captaincy to Conor Murray. 

Five days later, however, Gatland was on Thursday telling the few reporters from the UK who are on the ground in Johannesburg that the 35-year-old Jones is remarkably hoping to get himself right and play some part in the Test series. 

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Warren Gatland talks about competition for places in the Lions team

Gatland’s virtual media session on Thursday in the company of Stuart Hogg focused entirely on this Saturday’s match versus the South African Lions, but he held a separate briefing outside of that for media who have travelled on the tour and it was here that he provided a startling update on stricken skipper Jones.  

“Given his age, they think that they could potentially take a few shortcuts, more than you would do with a young player if he picked up this type of injury at the start of his career,” explained Gatland in stories carried by The Telegraph and The Sun. 

“So he is kind of optimistic that a miracle may happen and then he can get himself right. We are just going to assess it and see how the next couple of weeks goes in terms of that. The specialist said when he had to look at it that it wasn’t quite as bad as he thought it would be. But not good enough, obviously, to come on tour to start with and we needed a replacement otherwise we would have put too much pressure on him and the other second rows.

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“We are going to monitor that and as we come towards the end of the tour, or if we pick up an injury and he is making amazing progress, something can happen – you never know. So it is kind of one of those just wait-and-see situations.”

Jones has played in the last nine Lions Test games, a tally consisting of three matches each against the Springboks, the Wallabies and the All Blacks, and Gatland admitted there were conversations since the squad’s arrival in South Africa this week that the Welshman could be welcomed back into the squad.

“There have been some conversations that have gone on in the last few days,” added Gatland. “They have been saying: ‘Okay you go away and do your rehab and in the next couple of weeks we will see what sort of progress you have made.’

“There would be no way that we would even consider even bringing him out unless he was back into full contact and those sorts of things. We just have got to look at it, it may be that we pick up injuries in that position as well, so there are lots of things that could happen and could change. We’re just keeping an open mind on that situation.”

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'We're keeping open mind': Jones targets miracle Lions return

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