Kearney 'running again' as he nurses niggle in lower back
ROB KEARNEY has stepped up his training as he recovers from what is now believed to be a slight lower back issue.
Kearney cried off Leinster's Pro12 final team at the last minute just over a week ago complaining of a "tight hamstring". There is no tear there, according to the Lions head doctor James Robson and the full-back might be experiencing "referred pain".
"Rob is doing well and is running. We'll see how he progresses. He's been progressing nicely," said Dr Robson.
"Rob's not somebody you want to risk until he is right. It's also somebody who is on a long-haul travel on the back of pulling out of a game, so we are being perhaps a little cautious with him.
"He's with the physios and he might have been experiencing tightness in his hamstring because of a slight lower back strain. Hopefully the physios will get him back to team duties (today)."
Sean O'Brien also made a return to team training duties in Hong Kong yesterday but it is possible he will be held in reserve until the Lions play Queensland Reds on Saturday.
Paul O'Connell will also get the evening off as he recuperates from the weekend's game.
"It was close to the most difficult conditions I've ever played in," said O'Connell after the game.
"It was especially difficult to recover and catch your breath. You were huffing and puffing after only a few moments."
Neither were involved in the squad for Saturday's facile win over the Barbarians and with everyone who is fit expected to start at least one of the opening three games, they, and Brian O'Driscoll, should at least make the bench if not the starting team.
Meanwhile, Australia have made three changes to their preliminary squad that assembled in Sydney yesterday.
Melbourne Rebels half-back Nick Phipps, NSW Waratahs lock Kane Douglas and Western Force loose forward Ben McCalman have all been added to the group, in place of the injured trio of Digby Ioane, Sitaleki Timani and Scott Higginbotham.
Timani and Higginbotham have dropped out of the preliminary squad after sustaining injuries during the weekend round of Super Rugby.
Their prospects of participation in the Test series will be determined after the pair underwent scans for thumb and shoulder complaints respectively.
Timani left the field after sustaining a suspected broken thumb during the NSW Waratahs' one-point loss to the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday night, with the scans held over until after the team had returned to Sydney.
Higginbotham has dropped out of the squad after dislocating his shoulder during last night's loss to the Queensland Reds, with the Melbourne Rebels skipper remaining in Brisbane for scans while the Wallabies assemble.
Ioane last week underwent an operation to attend to an articular cartilage complaint in his left knee but he will stay with the Wallabies for his rehab and is expected to still play some part in the Test series.