Finn Russell sidelined until week of the first Lions Test with Achilles tear

England and Harlequins playmaker Marcus Smith has been called into the squad as injury cover

Finn Russell will miss the next three Lions match with an Achilles injury. Image: © Craig Watson -
Finn Russell will miss the next three Lions match with an Achilles injury. Image: © Craig Watson -

HARLEQUINS and England stand-off Marcus Smith has been called up to the British & Irish Lions squad in South Africa as injury cover for Scotsman Finn Russell, who is ‘managing’ an Achilles tear and will not feature in the next three scheduled matches for the tourists.

That means Russell will not come back into contention until the build-up to the first Test against the world champion Springboks, which is due to be played on Saturday 24th July.

Smith, who featured for England against Canada at Twickenham today [Saturday], will fly to Cape Town on tomorrow [Sunday] to join up with the Lions touring party.

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“Finn Russell had an injection today so it’s not a strained Achilles but a slight, little tear which is going to keep him out for the next couple of weeks,” said Lions head coach Warren Gatland after his team’s 71-31 win over Cell C Sharks on Saturday evening.

“We’re going to try to see if we can rehab him and he’s going to be in a boot for the next five days, and then when he comes out of that he’ll have some more treatment, and if he makes good progress then we’ll assess him going forward, and if he’s not then there’s a possibility that he may go home, so we’re just in a wait and see situation with him.

“We’re obviously disappointed for Finn, who I think has been outstanding since he came into camp in Jersey, but we are optimistic he’ll still play an important role in the Tour,” Gatland had said in a press released earlier in the day.

“We have two experienced fly halves in Owen Farrell and Dan Biggar, so it’s a great opportunity for the continued development of Marcus.

“I’ve been following him closely for the past 12 months and I’ve been impressed with how well he’s matured as a player.

“Finn and Marcus are similar in that they like to play with a bit of freedom, so, for me, it’s as close to a like-for-like cover as we can get. We look forward to welcoming him to the group in Cape Town.”

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About David Barnes 3911 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. The frustrating thing is that Gatland said Finn Russell’s ‘achilles had been sore so he went on the bench,’ for the first Sharks game. It looks like he should not have been asked to play and is now paying the price and may be out of the tour.

  2. Slightly surprised they have not went with a more tested player in Hastings.

  3. Geez a real shame for Finn, his tour is almost over before it’s started, not available until the first test if it even heals, Achilles injuries even seemingly innocuous can take longer than you would hope. C’mon Finn hope it’s a simple rehab ?

    • Sure, George – I wouldn’t put money on such an early return. At this distance, on the available information, it is not possible to gauge the extent of the injury, or the necessary recovery time.

      Achilles injuries can often prove persistently troublesome and difficult to heal, over many months, if at all.

    • he has a tear. Gatland thinks they can rehab it and Finn will be fine. But then Gatland has form for not giving a proverbial about player welfare beyond tomorrow. Just hope it is not made worse by trying to prove its ok


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