Lions need new captain as Gatland confirms Alun Wyn Jones injury nightmare
"We understand we have to be able to react and make decisions. That’s the only way you get on with it."
Warren Gatland is lucky that he has seen it all before, because this is a hammer blow, and then some.
The British & Irish Lions got off to a winning start on their 2021 tour, but it came at a huge cost. Captain Alun Wyn Jones looks set to miss out on more game-time after he dislocated his shoulder in the seventh minute of his team's 28-10 win. There were also injuries to Justin Tipuric and Jack Conan.
Speaking to the media after the game, the Lions head coach confirmed that there would be an injury cover call-up for Jones this evening. In all likelihood, that player will be requested to travel with the squad to South Africa on Sunday.
On the injury, Gatland confirmed his captain had dislocated his shoulder. While the remainder of the squad will travel to South Africa tomorrow, the 35-year-old will head back to Wales for treatment. Gatland commented:
"I’ve spoken to the physios and they’ve spoken to Alun Wyn. At best, he may be available for the Tests but we need someone to come in.
"I'll finalise a name after this press conference and make a call on who will come in and who will take over as tour captain."
The two leading candidates to replace Jones at lock are Jonny Gray (Exeter & Scotland) and James Ryan (Leinster & Ireland). Wales' Adam Beard is an outside shout.
Gatland will also need a new Lions captain. Asked who would take up most of the duties Jones would have dealt with, the Kiwi said:
"I don’t know yet. We haven’t discussed that. I’m getting over the disappointment of Alun Wyn. It’s not something that urgently needs to be done."
The leading candidates there would be Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Stuart Hogg and Iain Henderson, all of whom have strong chances of featuring in the Test XV.
Gat;and said Jack Conan (hamstring) was brought off as a precaution, with 10 minutes to go, while Justin Tipuric had a shoulder stinger. Both men should still travel to South Africa on Sunday.