Warren Gatland believes Alun Wyn Jones can make a sensational recovery and still potentially feature for the British & Irish Lions in the three-Test series against South Africa.
Gatland has revealed doctors have confirmed Jones’ dislocated shoulder is not as bad as first feared and that talks have taken place over the past few days about a ‘miracle’ recovery.
Jones didn’t travel to South Africa after suffering the injury just seven minutes into the warm-up match against Japan.
He left the squad before they flew out on Sunday, making an emotional speech beforehand and handing the new Lions players their first caps.
But, after naming his side for the first tour match against the Golden Lions this weekend, Gatland commented: “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.
“So he’s kind of optimistic that a miracle may happen, and then he can get himself right. We’re just going to assess it and see how the next couple of weeks goes in terms of that. I think the specialist said, when he had to look at it, that it wasn’t quite as bad as he thought it would be.”
The Lions will now closely monitor the situation, with medics in Wales and South Africa holding regular conversations.
“We’re going to monitor that and as we come towards the end of the tour, or if we pick up an injury and he’s making amazing progress, something can happen – you never know,” Gatland said.
“They [medics] 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’ve 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’s lots of things that could happen and could change. We’re just keeping an open mind on that situation.”
Wales coach Wayne Pivac said on Tuesday: “He is a very strong character mentally, very tough, and if he sets his mind to something he will achieve it 99 times out of 100.
“If he says he is coming back from this particular injury and he gives himself a date, I wouldn’t bet against it.”
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