British & Irish Lions Issue Squad Update Ahead Of First Test With The Springboks

Fit and ready.

The British and Irish Lions have been handed a huge boost with defence coach Steve Tandy revealing they have a near clean bill of health heading into this weekend’s hugely anticipated opening Test with the Springboks.

Finn Russell is the only player who will be unavailable for selection on Saturday as the Scottish international continues to recover from an ankle injury.

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Dan Biggar missed the game against the Stormers on Saturday but he’s back running and kicking and is expected to be fit. Liam Williams was forced off with a head injury against South Africa ‘A’ but he’s also on track.

Tour captain Alun Wyn Jones also came through his cameo off the bench unscathed and will be considered for the weekend.

“All the boys are pretty good, apart from Finn [Russell],” Steve Tandy told us this morning.

“Everyone is coming through and they’re all available for selection.

“[Finn] is out of the boot, he’s doing bits and pieces. It’s more or less with the medics, we’ll just keep assessing him as we go along. At the minute, he’s still here, and hopefully, he’ll become available at some point for us.

“[Dan Biggar] is good. He was running around the other day, he’s been kicking, yeah he’s all good.

“[Liam Williams is also] on track to be available. He has his last bit [of return to play protocols] today and we believe he’ll be available as well.

Robbie Henshaw finally returned from a hamstring problem on Saturday, impressing in his hour-long showing, and is fit and ready for selection too.

“[He has] no ill effects [from the Stormers game], he came through, it’s really good to have him back and performing,” Tandy said.

“It’s really pleasing to have a healthy squad going into the first Test.”

As for the Tests selection process, the coaches met last night and Tandy said it was one of the toughest meetings he’s ever had, given the incredible competition.

“There’s gonna be massive decisions. There’s gonna be a lot of, you could say, unlucky players. But they’re representing the Lions and we had an initial selection meeting last night that was a long one in fairness,” Tandy said.

“Just covering all bases, a lot of people have put their hands up. It’s a great place for us as coaches to be. There’ll probably be some bitter disappointment but I believe that in this squad, we have such a tight connection that everyone will be geared up to winning that first Test, whether you’re in the 23 or not.

“[The selection meeting] was a good hour and a half, maybe a little bit longer. We became clearer and clearer as we went along. We’ll confirm the selection and then Gats will announce that [to the players] at an appropriate time.

“It was one of the toughest things I’ve ever been involved in, so many people put their hands up in terms of putting their best foot forward.”