British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has confirmed that captain Alun Wyn Jones has been ruled out of the tour of South Africa with a dislocated shoulder.
Jones suffered the injury at a ruck in just the sixth minute of Saturday’s 1888 Cup win over Japan at Murrayfield, which acted as a warm-up for the Lions tour of South Africa.
The lock looked disconsolate as he was helped off the field with his arm in a makeshift sling.
Gatland confirmed post-match that the medical staff had managed to put Jones’ shoulder back into place and that he would be going for scans but, regardless, his tour is over.
The 36-year-old Jones, who holds the record for the most Test caps of all time, was named tour captain of the Lions for the first time, having previously taken over the captaincy when Sam Warburton was injured in the 2013 series against Australia. He also captained the Lions in a 2017 tour match against the Crusaders and left New Zealand as the first player in the professional era to play in nine consecutive British & Irish Lions Tests.
Jones was replaced by England lock Courtney Lawes against Japan and Gatland said they will be calling up a replacement to fly out to South Africa on Sunday.
“The shoulder was dislocated, they got it back in pretty easily,” Gatland said. “We’ll get it scanned, but with a dislocated shoulder it’s never good news. We’ll look at getting someone in pretty quickly and on the plane tomorrow.
“He’ll be gutted, it’s very disappointing for him. But you’ve got to put that behind you and move on as quickly as you possibly can.
“We’re discussing who to call up at the moment with the coaches, but I got called away for this press conference.”
Meanwhile, Gatland was more confident over the injury status of back rowers Justin Tipuric and Jack Conan. Tipuric went off after 21 minutes, also with a shoulder injury, but Gatland described it as a stinger, adding that he will be undergoing scans for nerve damage.
“He got a sting in the shoulder,” Gatland said of Tipuric. “We’re pretty confident that he’s going to be OK.”
Conan, meanwhile, was substituted as a precautionary measure late in the second half, leaving the Lions to play with 14 men as they had already used their loose-forward replacement at that stage.
“Just before kick-off, Jack Conan’s hamstring was a little bit tight,” Gatland explained. “He did brilliantly to get through 70 minutes and we just made that decision to take him off and play with 14 men for the last 10 minutes.
“Once that hamstring tightened up, it wasn’t worth losing potentially another player before we even got on the plane.”
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