Gatland confirms Jones could make shock return for British and Irish Lions07/13/2021
Warren Gatland has confirmed Alun Wyn Jones could rejoin the British and Irish Lions on their tour of South Africa after making a ‘remarkable recovery’ from a shoulder injury.
Jones, 35, was unveiled as captain of Gatland’s 37-man squad to take on the Springboks back in May but the lock dislocated his shoulder in the side’s warm-up clash with Japan which appeared to have ended his tour before it began.
The veteran second row was ruled out of the forthcoming three-match Test series in the aftermath of the Lions’ 28-10 win at Murrayfield but has since returned to training with Wales at their Vale Resort base over the last few days.
At a press conference on Monday, Lions head coach Gatland revealed there was a realistic chance that Jones could be set to fly out for South Africa imminently should he be given the green light over his fitness.
Asked whether there’s a possibility Jones could return, he told reporters: ‘There is a possibility.
‘A few weeks ago we didn’t think there was an option.’
The Lions face South Africa A in Cape Town on Wednesday and there are hopes the Welshman could return to training in the lead-up to the encounter.
‘We’re waiting for medical reports from him to see what happens with that,’ Gatland added.
‘He’s been back fully training with Wales – he’s training this week with them. I think he’s doing a double session with them tomorrow and we’ll see what the outcome of that is.
‘He has made a remarkable recovery. It would be a boost to the squad having someone of his experience and calibre come back into the squad. We will decide, probably tomorrow.’
Lions kicking coach Neil Jenkins believes recalling Jones would be a ‘no-brainer’ if the forward is able to prove his fitness.
‘If anyone could get back to play a Test series at this level, he could,’ he said
‘If someone of that calibre becomes available and he’s able to represent us, it’s a no-brainer.
‘I have never written him off in any way, shape or form. Nothing surprises me with Al.
‘He’s an incredible player both on and off the pitch.’
Gatland has made 12 changes to his Lions starting XV that defeated the Sharks, with Anthony Watson, Chris Harris and Dan Biggar the only players to keep hold of their places against South Africa A.
The match is still scheduled to take place despite mounting fears for the series after an outbreak of Covid-19 in Rassie Erasmus’ Springbok camp.
There have been 20 positive cases among the hosts’ party since the Lions flew out on tour.
Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray is set to captain the side at Cape Town Stadium.
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