Prop crisis for Lions as Gethin Jenkins to return home
THE British and Irish Lions have suffered a second major injury blow inside 24 hours.
Wales prop Gethin Jenkins has not recovered from a calf muscle strain that ruled him out of today's game against Queensland Reds, and he will return home tomorrow.
Ireland prop Cian Healy is also departing Australia tomorrow, having been ruled out by ankle ligament damage suffered during last Wednesday's victory over Western Force in Perth.
Alex Corbsiero arrived in Brisbane from England's tour of Argentina today. He was summoned as injury cover for Healy.
And Scotland's Ryan Grant, who had been in South Africa preparing with Scotland to face Samoa later today, is due to join the Lions ahead of tonight's kick-off against the Reds.
Jenkins and Healy were expected to battle it out for the Lions number one shirt against Australia, but they have now both been ruled out of contention a fortnight before the Test series starts.
Assessing Jenkins' situation, Lions team doctor James Robson said: "The expected time for recovery is at least three weeks.
"Given the remaining duration of the tour, we felt that Gethin should return home and continue his rehabilitation there."
England's Mako Vunipola will start against the Reds, while it is likely that either Corbisiero or Grant can expect a starting role against a Combined Country XV in Newcastle next Tuesday.
The Lions began their 10-match tour with thumping victories over the Barbarians and Western Force, scoring 128 points and 17 tries.
But to lose two of their most experienced campaigners so early in the trip represents a double blow for head coach Warren Gatland.
Corbisiero, meanwhile, has arrived Down Under following a marathon journey that took him from Salta - the venue for England's Test match against Argentina today - to Buenos Aires, then Santiago, Auckland, Sydney and finally Brisbane.
He has now met up with his Lions squad colleagues.
"It was a long journey, but I'm not complaining - I would do it again just to be here," he said.
"You never like to come in for anyone who is injured, and I feel for Cian and Gethin, but I just feel so privileged to be given this opportunity.
"It's been a bit of a whirlwind afternoon meeting everyone, and I am looking forward to going to the game tonight and then getting down to training.
"I also want to wish England all the best against Argentina today."