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Lions confident Alun Wyn Jones is ready for first rugby test

July 19, 2021 GMT

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Alun Wyn Jones remains in contention to complete a remarkable injury recovery and feature for the British and Irish Lions in the first rugby test against South Africa on Saturday, according to defense coach Steve Tandy.

The lock came off the bench on Saturday to play the last 25 minutes of the final warmup match — a resounding 49-3 win over the Stormers — in Cape Town.

It was an amazing turnaround for the 35-year-old Jones, who was initially ruled out of the trip after dislocating his left shoulder against Japan on June 26.

The Welsh player was also replaced as tour captain by Ireland’s Conor Murray but has been reinstated.

Asked whether the time he played was sufficient to push him into contention for the first of the three tests, Tandy said on Monday: “I believe so. Al, historically, has done some pretty special things.

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“He’s fit, he’s raring to go. It was only three weeks ago when he was injured but you see the training he’s been doing, he keeps himself in absolutely great shape, so there’ll be no issues there.”

Jones has played the last nine tests for the Lions across the three previous tours, including 2009 in South Africa.

“He’s got unbelievable experience and his leadership qualities are outstanding as well,” Tandy said.

The defense coach also confirmed that only one or two selection decisions for the first test were still outstanding.

Flyhalf Finn Russell, who has an Achilles issue, is the only player not being considered for the clash at the Cape Town Stadium.

“A lot of players have put their hands up and it is a great place for us as coaches to be,” Tandy said. “There will be bitter disappointment, but I believe that within this squad there is such a tight connection that everyone will be geared up to winning that first test whether you are in the 23 or not.”

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