LIONS tour captain Alun Wyn Jones will not fly out to South Africa with the rest of the squad tomorrow, but will return from Edinburgh to Wales instead, after suffering a shoulder dislocation during the team’s warm-up victory over Japan at Murrayfield this afternoon.
“He dislocated his shoulder,” confirmed head coach Warren Gatland. “It went back in easy but the prognosis of him being fit … the very, very best-case scenario is that he might be able to make the first Test.
“He’s going to go and get scanned but we’ve just had a chat and we’re going to have to replace him.”
“[It’s] very disappointing but he’s been around rugby long enough. He’s going to be gutted, it is very disappointing for him, but it was one of those things you’ve got to put behind you and move on as quickly as you possibly can.
“I was speaking to the physios, and they’ve spoken to Alun Wyn. He understands that the very best case scenario is that he may get back for the Tests but we need to pull someone in and get them PCR tested and hopefully get them on the flight with us tomorrow.”
Gatland added that flanker Justin Tipuric is also a doubt. “He got a stinger in the shoulder so we’re just going to check with a scan to make sure there is no nerve damage,” the coach explained. “If there was any nerve impingement or damage [then] that could rule him out, but at the moment we’re pretty confident he’s going to be okay, that it is just a stinger in the shoulder and he’s going to be okay from that.
No8 Jack Conan came off with 10 minutes to go, after the lions had used all their subs, so the team had to play the final period with just 14 men, but Gatland indicated that he is not too concerned about the Irishmen being fit for the tour.
“Just before kick-off, Jack Conan’s hamstring was a little but tight and he did brilliantly to get through 70 minutes,” he said. “We made the decision to take him off an play with just 14 men for the last 10 minutes because it wasn’t worth losing, potentially, another player before we get on the plane
A decision will be made quickly on who should replace the captain. “We’re discussing a couple of names at the moment with the coaches,” confirmed Gatland. “I was doing that – it was a priority – but, unfortunately, I got called away to do a press conference, so I’m going back to finalise that after I’ve spoken to you guys. We’ll make that call and also potentially who’s going to take over as tour captain as well.
“We’ve got a leadership group which is pretty experienced so it [naming a captain] is not something that urgently needs to be done, but we’re just aware of who potentially steps into that role.
Gatland was clearly upset at losing such a key player at this early juncture, but stressed that he and his squad will be able to move on quickly.
“No one is in shock because if you are in shock then it reflects back into the whole squad,” he reasoned. “We understand that things are different, we’ve got to be fluid, we’ve got to be able to move on, and we’ve got to be able to react and make decisions. That’s the only way you can deal with it. If you kind of go into a shock scenario and look as though you are panicking about it then that is going to reflect badly on us.
“It is disappointing for Alan Wyn, it is disappointing if Justin Tipuric is not right, but we’ve just got to make the right decisions and do that as quickly as we possibly can in the calmest way we possibly can.”