Saturday 20 January 2018

Rob Kearney’s Lions Tour in doubt after hamstring injury

Lions physiotherapist Prav Mathema treats Rob Kearney at the Aberdeen Sports Ground in Hong Kong before the team flew to Perth
Lions physiotherapist Prav Mathema treats Rob Kearney at the Aberdeen Sports Ground in Hong Kong before the team flew to Perth
Brian O'Driscoll runs with the ball during a training session in Perth
The British and Irish Lions team player Brian O'Driscoll talks with journalists during a news conference in Perth
Brian O'Driscoll poses for a photograph after a news conference in Perth
Lions team captain Sam Warburton stretches with a trainer during a warm-up session in Perth
Manu Tuilagi (C) passes the ball as teammates George North (L) and Tommy Bowe look on during a training session in Perth
Conor George

Conor George

ROB KEARNEY’S Lions Tour is hanging in the balance after it was confirmed he suffered a Grade One tear of his hamstring.

It had been  believed that the Ireland full back had a simple “strain” and Lions head doctor James Robson even suggested yesterday morning that Kearney might be suffering symptoms from “a lower back problem”.

A scan in Hong Kong yesterday revealed the tear, however. Lion coach Warren Gatland insisted Kearney will be given time to rehab and that a decision on his continued involvement with the squad will not be rushed.

“There are a number of marks that Rob will have to meet every few days in order to gauge his progress,” said Gatland.

“We will continue to monitor him and will give him time to recover. There is no cut-off point as we believe that we have enough cover at the moment to compensate.

"Rob is a little bit of a concern for us at the moment to be honest. We are going to see how he responds and so we need to be potentially prepared that the hamstring injury might not heal as quickly as we would like and we have got to put some other potential plans in place."

Gatland said talk of replacing the fullback, who played in all three tests against South Africa on the last Lions tour in 2009, was premature with adequate cover already in the squad.

"We want to give him a good time," he said. "We feel like we have cover at the moment with Leigh Halfpenny and Stuart Hogg and obviously Sean Maitland has played a fair bit at fullback

"But potentially if we do get another knock then we will have to think about a replacement."

Brian O’Driscoll, who captains the Lions on Wednesday against Western Force in Perth, said Kearney “has felt better and felt worse” but is taking confidence from being afforded the time to recover and rehab.

“It shows what calibre of player he is that he is being given the time,” said O’Driscoll. “It also emphasises the impact he had with the Lions four years ago.”

If any other full-backs suffer injuries before Kearney has fully recovered or if his recovery slows or stalls then it is probable the Leinster player will be replaced in the squad.

O’Driscoll becomes the second Irish player to captain the Lions on this Tour and is joined in the starting team by compatriots Tommy Bowe, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray, Cian Healy, Rory Best and Jamie Heaslip.

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