British and Irish Lions: Finn Russell’s tour may be over in Gatland

Russell (right) is one of eight Scots in Lions – the biggest band in 32 years

Warren Gatland’s head coach, Warren Gatland, says Finn Russell may have to return home from the British and Irish Lions’ expedition in South Africa with his hock ruptured.

The Scotland international, 28, will not be available until the start of the three Test series on July 24 at best.

“If he’s making good progress, we’ll rate him moving forward. If he’s not, there’s a chance he’ll go home,” Gatland said.

gatland Marcus Smith summoned half of England’s Fly as cover to Russell.

Wales’ Dan Biggar is another specialist half-fly player on the team although England’s Owen Farrell has made 46 of 97 Test appearances in 10 and Wednesday started with a 54-7 victory over the Sharks there.

“Finn got an injection. He’s not a tense Achilles, there’s a slight tear, which will keep him out for the next two weeks,” Gatland added.

“We’ll see if we can rehabilitate him and he’ll be in a box for the next five days. When he’s out of that, he’ll have more treatment for the next five days.”

Russell’s running, distribution and attacking kick combination has made him a fixture at both Scotland and Racing 92 in recent seasons.

Called up to the 2017 tour as part of a controversial squad of six reserve players, he made his Lions debut at 56-14 win over Sigma Lions last weekend.

‘We need to be more tidy’

Warren Gatland
Gatland led the Lions to a series win in Australia in 2013 and then tied in New Zealand four years later

Gatland said his team needed to seal the game from a first-half performance that allowed the Sharks to reach the first half at 26-26 on Saturday, after scoring three Lions tackle attempts.

Tourists, with a man advantage after Jaden Hendrikse’s 46th minute red card from Sharks, They lost a 71-31 win in the second half.

“We just need to make sure that we’re more precise and organized and we did it a lot better in the second half,” Gatland said.

“That’s what is coming in the Test matches in terms of the South African team, who will be looking to come in strong, put us under pressure and see if they can catch us behind the earning streak with some loose stuff.

Gatland was forced to change his starting lineup late with Maru Etoge out of the second row due to a stomach ailment.

It was another development in a week that included the Covid outbreak in the Lions party, and turned into opposition on Saturday after cases at the Bulls camp forced them out of the game and several roaming players self-isolating in their hotel rooms.

“If anything else happened on the tour that was as chaotic as it has been this week, that would probably surprise me,” Gatland added.

“There was a mess. Then it’s about adapting to that and then changing.”

“That was the motto. I thought we dealt with it during the week. I see it as a positive thing.

“We just have to go with the flow and respond to whatever is thrown at us.”

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