Royal XV v British and Irish Lions
Powell and Ferris ruled out of opener
May 30, 2009
Wales No.8 Andy Powell is a doubt for the Lions' tour opener © Getty Images
No.8 Andy Powell and flanker Stephen Ferris have been ruled out of the British & Irish Lions' opening tour clash with a Royal XV in Rustenburg on Saturday.
Powell, who was due to start at No.8 at the Roal Bakofeng Stadium this afternoon, has suffered a hand problem which is understood to have been caused by an insect bite. The Welshman will be replaced by Munster's David Wallace, while the place on the bench due to be filled by flanker Ferris is instead taken by his Ireland team-mate Jamie Heaslip. Ferris suffered a calf muscle injury in training this week.
"Both players suffered injuries this week in training and unfortunately their recovery has been slower than anticipated," said tour manager Gerald Davies. "Andy sustained a hand injury while Stephen has a lower leg strain.
Team Doctor James Robson said, "After treatment and further assessment of the injuries the medical staff believe precaution is the sensible option considering we are at the start of the tour. On this advice Head Coach Ian McGeechan believed it was better for the two players and the squad that they not play in the first match today."
"Both players are undergoing recovery regimes with the medical staff and both players are expected to recover and play a role on tour. It is important to understand that the management of injuries and their treatment is not black and white. One minute an injury will respond to treatment, then its nature can change, necessitating a change in the treatment regime. That is why we are continually monitoring the players and any injuries."
Lions assistant coach Graham Rowntree is refusing to take the Lions' first opponents lightly, written off by many observers as the weakest side that the Lions will face on tour.
"There is a trap waiting for us if we think they are the weakest team we will face on this tour," he said yesterday. "If I was playing for them (Royal XV), it would probably be the biggest game of my life, a huge opportunity to turn over a Lions team that is playing together for the first time.
"They will be licking their lips waiting for us. I expect an onslaught from them. It doesn't matter if it is a team thrown together - they will fancy their chances. If I was one of those players, it would be such a massive game for me. Those early collisions will be a good test."
British & Irish Lions: Lee Byrne (Ospreys/Wales), Tommy Bowe (Ospreys/Ireland), Keith Earls (Munster/Ireland), Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues/Wales), Shane Williams (Ospreys/Wales), Ronan O'Gara (Munster/Ireland), Mike Blair (Edinburgh/Scotland), David Wallace (Munster/Ireland), Martyn Williams (Cardiff Blues/Wales), Joe Worsley (London Wasps/England), Paul O'Connell (Munster/Ireland, captain), Simon Shaw (London Wasps/England), Adam Jones (Ospreys/Wales), Matthew Rees (Scarlets/Wales), Andrew Sheridan (Sales Sharks/England)
Replacements: Lee Mears (Bath/England), Phil Vickery (London Wasps/England), Alun-Wyn Jones (Ospreys/Wales), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster/Ireland), Mike Phillips (Ospreys/Wales), Stephen Jones (Scarlets/Wales), Riki Flutey (London Wasps/England)