Alun Wyn Jones is on the brink of completing a miraculous return to the British & Irish Lions squad after making a “remarkable recovery” from a dislocated shoulder. Warren Gatland confirmed that his initial tour captain is back in training with Wales this week and he is set to make a final call on whether to fly Jones out to South Africa on Tuesday.
Jones’s presence in the squad would be a huge boost for the Lions, who face South Africa A – packed with 11 World Cup winners – on Wednesday in what is shaping up to be an unofficial fourth Test. The 35-year-old sustained the injury in the early stages of the Lions’ victory over Japan on 25 June and was effectively ruled out of the tour with Gatland appointing Conor Murray as his replacement as captain.
Gatland delivered a promising update not long after arriving in South Africa and depending on how Jones comes through a double training session with Wales he could yet play a part in the Test series. His experience would be invaluable given he was the only member of the initial squad to have toured South Africa with the Lions, has nine Test appearances for the tourists including seven starts and is the most- capped international of all time.
“A few weeks ago we didn’t think it was an option,” said Gatland, who may also add the Ireland hooker Ronan Kelleher to the squad as additional cover. “He has been back fully training with Wales – he is training this week with them – he is doing a double session with them and we’ll just see what the outcome of that is.
“He has made a remarkable recovery in terms of that injury, which wasn’t as bad as they first thought. That’s a real positive and it would be a boost to the squad having someone of his experience and calibre to come back into the squad.”
Murray has not yet started since his appointment but has been given the nod on Wednesday when he will captain a strong Lions lineup for the first time in Cape Town. Dan Biggar is one of three players to keep their place from the side who defeated the Sharks for the second time on Saturday with Owen Farrell nursing an abdominal injury but Gatland is optimistic the England captain will play some part against the Stormers on Saturday.
Marcus Smith is not part of the matchday squad after arriving in South Africa but is expected to be involved at the weekend and Gatland could have Robbie Henshaw available after a hamstring injury. Gatland was insistent the match would still be against the Stormers, even though South Africa are keen on replacing it with another ‘A’ fixture, with the Springboks, who were forced into isolation last week, having played one Test since 그만큼 2019 World Cup final.
Gatland welcomed the challenge posed by the midweek opponents with Faf de Klerk, Cheslin Kolbe, Willie le Roux, Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Lukhanyo Am all selected. “I’m absolutely delighted with the team they’ve put out because that helps our preparation immensely,” he said “We’ll get a bit of a feel of where we are and what things we need to work on in the 10 days leading into the first Test.”
Maro Itoje, 그 동안에, has condemned the racist abuse suffered by some of England’s footballers after their defeat in the Euro 2020 final by Italy. Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka missed penalties and have been targeted on social media.
“It’s just incredibly sad to hear, sad to see, it’s sad that we have to have this conversation in 2021,” he said. “This is a large amount of the reason why so much talk is done about racism in sport because these incidents happen on a semi-regular basis.
“It’s become cliche to say this but we need to do more. We need to do more to tackle it, we need to do more to get these types of people out of stadiums, we need to do more to tackle this type of football culture that ruins it for a large amount of people.”
Lions v South Africa A: A Watson; L Rees-Zammit, C Harris, B Aki, J Adams; D Biggar, C Murray (capt); W Jones, K Owens, K Sinckler , M Itoje, I Henderson, J Navidi, T Curry, T Faletau. Replacements: L Cowan-Dickie, M Vunipola, Z Fagerson, A Beard, T Beirne, S Simmonds, G Davies, E Daly.