Ferris and Halfpenny Ruled Out Of Tour
Captain Ryan Jones has been called up to the British and Irish Lions squad, after Stephen Ferris was ruled out with injury on Tuesday.
Ferris was left on crutches after sustaining the injury at a training session in Durban, and a subsequent scan has revealed a grade two tear to his medial collateral ligament that will take four to six weeks to heal, effectively ruling the Ulsterman out of the rest of the tour.
He had been in a head-to-head battle with Tom Croft for the Lions’ number six jersey, after having starred in his two tour starts to date.
Jones will thus take his place in the side after initially being left out due to a loss of form for the national team.
Jones was called up to the 2005 Lions in similar circumstances, and ended up as a Test starter and one of the stand-out performers of the tour.
Jones will join the Lions squad on Thursday after having played in for Wales on their tour of the USA and Canada. Against the USA last weekend, Jones was forced off the pitch with a bang to the head, but he has been passed fit to play.
Lions head coach Ian McGeechan said: “He (Ferris) had the scan on Tuesday morning that showed he had a grade two tear to his medial collateral ligament.
“This usually requires a four to six-week recovery period and is severe enough to mean he will miss the rest of the tour.
“Therefore, with six matches left on tour after Wednesday’s match against the Sharks, we believe we need to fly out a replacement as cover for the back row.
“Ryan is on the stand-by reserve list and has been playing for Wales over the last few weeks in the USA and Canada.
“He will fit right in as he knows a lot of the players and he was a Lions replacement on the 2005 tour to New Zealand.
“In fact, on that tour he showed how competitive he is as an individual by forcing his way into the Test side for all three matches against the All Blacks.”
And such was his impact he looked set for an intriguing head-to-head for the Lions Test number six shirt with England’s Tom Croft.
Ferris’ dream though, is now over, as he joins a list of players who have fallen by the wayside.
McGeechan saw hooker Jerry Flannery, scrumhalf Tomas O’Leary and Tom Shanklin all fail to make last month’s flight to Johannesburg due to injuries, while a 12-week suspension sidelined Munster flanker Alan Quinlan.
For Jones, the call-up comes at the end of what has been a testing season.
He led Wales to the Six Nations title and Grand Slam last year, but has failed to recapture his form since then.
He was one of three Six Nations skippers who originally failed to gain selection for the Lions trip, being joined by Scotland’s Mike Blair and England’s Steve Borthwick.
Blair, however, was summoned as replacement for O’Leary, and Jones will now look to make his mark in his probable tour debut against the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth next Tuesday.
Also ruled out of the tour is Wales wing Leigh Halfpenny has been ruled out of the rest of the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa because of a thigh injury.
The Wales winger (Who wears Adidas Predator powerswerve Rugby Boots) was a late arrival on the tour, having remained in Cardiff to receive treatment on the problem.
After joining the tour, Halfpenny played against the Cheetahs on Saturday and was due to be on the bench to take on the Sharks on Wednesday.
However the 20-year-old aggravated the same injury in his thigh after opting to stay on for extra training on Monday.
Halfpenny was initially just pulled out of the squad to face the Sharks in Durban, but a scan has shown the injury is worse than expected.
The Lions, who already have Gordon D’Arcy as part of the squad as cover, will not be calling up a replacement for Halfpenny.
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