Lions round-up & updated Team News

This Lions tour has been almost unprecedented in the relentlessness of the news coming out of both camps, 48 hours after the Lions nail-biting victory in the First Test, we round up all of the big stories since the game:

Not me Guv’

The Wallaby captain, James Horwill, was citied following an alleged stamp on Lions lock Alun Wyn Jones’ face.

At his hearing it was adjudged that Horwill had been trying to regain his balance and had not known Jones was there. Judicial officer Nigel Hampton QC said:

“After hearing all the evidence I could not find that when James Horwill’s right foot came into glancing contact with Alun Wyn Jones’ face, he was acting recklessly, I found that I could not reject as being implausible or improbable Horwill’s explanation that as he was driving forward with his right leg raised, he was spun off balance through the impact of Lions players entering the ruck from the opposite side.”

“In an endeavour to regain his balance, Horwill brought his right leg to the ground unknowing that Alun Wyn Jones’ head was in that area, due to having his sight impeded by the presence of Michael Hooper and Tom Croft, who were beneath him and over the top of Alun Wyn Jones. Due to these reasons I cannot uphold the citing.”

Not wishing to come across as one-eyed or biased we shall simply give you a link to the scandalous act and allow you to make your own judgment!

Paul O’Connell out

The Wallabies have managed to retain their talismanic second row but unfortunately for the Lions their own granite clad second row has been ruled out of the Test series with a broken arm.

The Lions are said to be unsure whether or not O’Connell will reamin with the touring party, however forwards coach Graham Rowntree has said that he hopes the second row stays as he is a “big influence to the group”. Rowntree also confirmed that Geoff Parling would be stepping into O’Connell’s shoes for the second Test, saying:

“I’m not going to try and lie (about Parling starting on Saturday): Geoff is our next lineout caller as such and he’s been doing very well coming off the bench and he’s taken his chance when he’s started as well. We’ve got good cover there so it’s a chance for him.”

Parling’s elevation means a reshuffling of the midweek side to face the Melbourne Rebels tomorrow, more on that below.

More Lions Prop Woes

The Lions have already lost two loosehead props in the shape of Gethin Jenkins and Cian Healy, now a third looks like he could be a doubt.

Alex Corbisiero, who was a replacement on tour for Cian Healy, was seen receiving extensive treatment to his calf droning the match on Saturday, and is now a doubt for the second Test.

Irishman Tom Court has been called up as cover an goes straight onto the bench for Tuesday’s fixture against the Melbourne Rebels, showing the value of staying nearby when the Lions are in town; he was staying with his parents, who live in Brisbane, when he received the call.

Digby in a pickle

In one of the more bizarre stories to have emerged since the First Test, Wallaby winger Digby Ioane has had a warrant issued for his arrest after he failed to attend a court date for an assault charge following a victory against the Melbourne Rebels in March.

It capped a pretty awful day for the Stade Francais bound winger, he also received the news that he would be out of the rest of the Test series after damaging his shoulder on Saturday, an injury that may require surgery.

The ARU said in a statement that they had worked expeditiously” with Ioane and Victorian state police to resolve the matter.

“Digby will report to the Victorian Police and will be issued with a revised court date,” the union said.

Wallaby backline disintegrating

Along with the news that Ioane would miss the rest of the series it was announced that Pat McCabe would also take no further part in the series.

McCabe injured his neck and he has only recently come back from a similar injury that occurred last year, so the Australian medical team is being understandably cautious.

To add further turmoil to an already crumbling backline, Berrick Barnes has been ruled out of the Second Test and will be assessed ahead of the third. Barnes suffered a concussion after colliding with teammate Israel Folau, the full back almost quit the game last year following multiple concussions so every care is being taken over him with this one.

Jesse Mogg, Ben Tapuai and legendary flanker George Smith have all been called up as cover.

Good news and bad news for Leali’ifano

The good news for Australia and Christian Leali’ifano is that despite being knocked out in the first minute of his Test debut on Saturday, he is expected to be fit for the second Test.

The bad news is that so is Manu Tuilagi (he starts on Tuesday), and possibly Jamie Roberts for the Lions, so the collisions are not going to get any smaller.

There news is less certain on experienced Wallaby centre Adam Ashley Cooper. He injured his shoulder late on against the Lions and had been expected to miss the rest of the series. That is not now expected to be the case, however his participation on Saturday is still uncertain.

Broken Bones can’t stop Bowe

Tommy Bowe has been declared fit to play in the second Test, despite breaking a bone in his hand less than three weeks ago. Warren Gatland has said that the medical staff had said it was usually an injury that would take between seven and eight weeks to heal. Making Bowe’s recovery either remarkable or risky. Nonetheless, he will be a valuable addition.

Lydiate to Captain reshuffled midweek team

Dan Lydiate will captain the Lions against the Melbourne Rebels tomorrow following Geoff Parling’s elevation to the starting XV on Saturday.

The team has seen a bit of a reshuffle with Ian Evans replacing Parling, Tom Croft replaces Evans on the bench. Also on the bench is Tom Court who replaces Mako Vunipola who sits out in case he has to replace Alex Corbisiero in the Test XV on Saturday.

Five players who were on the bench on Saturday start tomorrow, Richard Hibbard, Dan Cole, Dan Lydiate, Owen Farrell and Sean Maitland, with Ben Youngs on the bench. Tom Croft is the only player to be involved who started on Saturday.

Brad Barritt partners the fit again Manu Tuilagi in the centre, while Rob Kearney has another chance to show his worth at full back, Simon Zebo starts alongside him on the wing.

Conor Murray starts at scrum half, opposite former Australian international Luke Burgess, while Toby Faletau and Sean O’Brien join Dan Lydiate in the back row.

Richie Gray partners Ian Evans in the second row, with a Test bench space now available their performances will be closely watched, while Ryan Grant starts at loosehead knowing that if Alex Corbisiero does not recover then he could be in the Test 23.

Lions squad vs Melbourne Rebels:

15. Rob Kearney 14. Sean Maitland 13. Manu Tuilagi 12. Brad Barritt 11. Simon Zebo 10. Owen Farrell 9. Conor Murray; 1. Ryan Grant 2. Richard Hibbard 3. Dan Cole 4. Richie Gray 5. Ian Evans 6. Dan Lydiate (captain) 7. Sean O’Brien 8. Toby Faletau.

Replacements: 16. Rory Best 17. Tom Court 18. Matt Stevens 19. Tom Croft 20. Justin Tipuric 21. Ben Youngs 22. Billy Twelvetrees 23. Stuart Hogg.

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