Marcus Smith gets Lions call-up as Finn Russell battles to stay on tour
Another big blow to the Lions.
Finn Russell is nursing an Achilles injury that may yet rule him out of the remainder of the British & Irish Lions' Tour to South Africa. There is a call-up for Marcus Smith but Johnny Sexton is not required by Warren Gatland.
The Scotland star had, earlier today, been replaced on the Lions' bench by Bundee Aki, for the Saturday clash with Cell C Sharks. The Achilles injury that has ruled him out of the game appears to be more serious than first thought.
As it is, the Lions are calling up Harlequins outhalf Marcus Smith. The 22-year-old only made his England debut against the USA, last weekend, and started for Eddie Jones' side against Canada today.
Indeed, he will have been initially unaware of his call-up as he was still playing at Twickenham as the news broke:
SQUAD UPDATE 📋
Head Coach, Warren Gatland, has called up Harlequins and England fly-half Marcus Smith as injury cover for Finn Russell, who remains with the squad.#LionsRugby #CastleLionsSeries #LionsSA2021 pic.twitter.com/5EmPPPc9I7
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) July 10, 2021
As the Lions have stated in their short post, Russell will remain on in what will be a 38-man squad now. That leaves Smith dicing with Owen Farrell and Test XV favourite Dan Biggar for a role in the upcoming series with South Africa.
Interestingly there has been no call-up for two-time Lions star Johnny Sexton. The Ireland captain has not played since getting concussed against Exeter Chiefs in early April but Andy Farrell has said the 35-year-old has been training fully and has been cleared to play after some concussion issues.
When Sexton missed out on the initial Lions squad, Ulster outhalf Ian Madigan argued it had been a poor call. He told House of Rugby:
"The biggest frustration for him, is you look at the guys that have been picked ahead of him - the likes of Owen Farrell or Finn Russell - he completely outplayed them in the Six Nations."
Leicester and England outhalf George Ford will be the other top-level international No.10 gutted to miss out.