Wales coach Wayne Bivak provided insight into the training Alon Wayne Jones had to do in order to prove he was fit enough to join the Lions.
The 35-year-old has completed a Lazarus-like recovery after dislocating his shoulder in a warm-up match against Japan 19 days ago.
It was an injury that seemed to end his chances of appearing on the Lions Tour but he has now arrived in Cape Town and He will play against the Stormers on Saturday.
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At first the outlook was grim, but when scans revealed the damage wouldn’t require immediate surgical repair, Jones gave the glint of light he needed and he can now appear in the Test series against the Springboks.
“I had an initial conversation with Al and he was obviously very disappointed to have been injured in the first place and to have to go home,” Bivac said.
“I didn’t speak to him after that for a while and the doctors took a look at the scan and decided he could recover without surgery and recover reasonably quickly.
“As soon as this conversation took place between the medical teams – and I was involved in it – the doors opened and Al came in.
“He’s worked on taking his socks off like he always does. He showed that with his knee injury after the fall, how hardworking he is when it comes to rehab.
“It was not surprising for us to see that we had an opportunity and then he took it.
“He certainly trained well on Tuesday in both sessions and that has been transferred. Now he is where he is and we are very happy for him.”
When asked what Jones’s rehab team did in the period between the injury and his arrival at Wales camp, Bivac simply said: “Anything is possible. He did everything he could humanly.”
To get to this point, Jones had to undergo two rigorous training sessions with Wales as they prepared to face Argentina on Saturday.
On Tuesday, he was in full contact, not blocking any back-to-back sessions with the BIVAC team. How he came through those sessions would determine if he was fit enough to join the Lions.
There were no issues.
Bivac explained: “We have two sessions on Tuesday. The morning session is a unit session, so the attackers are separated by their backs.
“We go through our tufts and our strides. It’s a full lift and it goes through the full range of motion in the shoulder, in lift capacity. It was lifting the big guys.
“There they are also lifted and then lowered to the ground. We did some hits with the ball and without the ball.
“That was full and we judged that.
“It came through in our pick-and-go scenarios on the goal line, both in attack and defence.
Then he trained fully in the fifth team scenario.
“He has been dealt with and interventions have been made. There is nothing else he can do to prove his fitness.”
Once the sessions were completed, members of the Wells and Lyons management teams were reaching out to provide their assessment of Jones’ condition.
Chief Lions, Warren Gatland, was also provided with video footage of his original tour captain from those training sessions.
“The head of the analysis department was talking to myself. It’s the medical team talking to the medical team. Coach to coach,” Bivac said of the discussions.
“There was a lot of communication to make sure the right decisions were made.
“I don’t think there is anything else anyone could do.”
Now Jones has arrived in Cape Town, and will take a place on the bench for Saturday’s game against the Stormers.
It is believed that he will have around 20 minutes of match time to prove his fitness before the first test against South Africa next Saturday.
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