Tuesday 21 November 2017

Successful surgery may save Tommy Bowe's Lions Tour

British and Irish Lions' Tommy Bowe sits on the bench with his hand strapped up
British and Irish Lions' Tommy Bowe sits on the bench with his hand strapped up

England prop Alex Corbisiero will make his British and Irish Lions debut against a Combined Country XV in Newcastle on Tuesday.

Corbisiero, who only arrived in Brisbane yesterday from England's tour of Argentina, will start in a team captained by Ireland centre Brian O'Driscoll.

Corbisiero's fellow tour replacement Ryan Grant has been named on the bench, while Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg is handed fly-half duties.

Props Cian Healy (ankle ligaments) and Gethin Jenkins (calf muscle) are due to fly home today due to tour-ending injuries.

The line-up for Tuesday also includes Wales centre Jamie Roberts, England prop Dan Cole, Scotland lock Richie Gray and Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip.

Ireland wing Tommy Bowe, meanwhile, is due to undergo surgery on a broken bone in his hand that he suffered against Queensland Reds last night.

There is no suggestion, at this stage, that Bowe's tour is over.

Fly-half Jonathan Sexton meanwhile has had a scan on his hamstring after he reported tightness in it during the Reds game, but there are not thought to be any issues surrounding him.

"The Reds game was always going to be a big challenge, and I was delighted at the victory and the way we were tested," Lions head coach Warren Gatland said.

"It was a very physical match, as we knew it would be. We now move on to Newcastle and another challenge.

"This team to play Country includes three players - Richie Gray, Alex Cuthbert and Stuart Hogg - who are starting their second game in a row, plus another, George North, who came off the bench early against the Reds.

"This is the nature of Lions tours as we adapt to injuries and playing twice a week."

Lions manager Andy Irvine added: "We are delighted to have kept our unbeaten record intact.

"We were pushed all the way by an extremely skilful and committed Reds team that played some brilliant intuitive rugby.

"However, I was incredibly proud of the way we responded and how we defended right to the bitter end. The win will be a tremendous boost to our confidence for the forthcoming Test series.

"We are getting stronger each week, combinations are starting to take shape and we will be determined to head for Sydney next Saturday with another sound win."

British and Irish Lions team to play a Combined Country XV in Newcastle on Tuesday.

S Maitland (Scotland); A Cuthbert (Wales), B O'Driscoll (Ireland, capt), J Roberts (Wales), G North (Wales); S Hogg (Scotland), C Murray (Ireland); A Corbisiero (England), R Hibbard (Wales), D Cole (England), R Gray (Scotland), I Evans (Wales), S O'Brien (Ireland), J Tipuric (Wales), J Heaslip (Ireland).

Replacements: R Best (Ireland), R Grant (Scotland), M Stevens (England), A-W Jones (Wales), T Faletau (Wales), M Phillips (Wales), J Davies (Wales), L Halfpenny (Wales).

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