Le Cap (AFP)
“A lot of players put their hands up tonight,” said British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland after his team beat the Stormers 49-3 at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
One of those players was Alun Wyn Jones, who was reinstated as tour captain after capping a remarkable recovery from a shoulder injury with a solid performance as a second-half substitute.
Jones arrived in Cape Town on Thursday after defying medical advice that excluded him from the tour.
“He threw a few shots, he defended well and there were a few touches,” said Gatland. “The most important thing for him was to go through this period and see how he was afterwards.
“I haven’t really spoken to him to see how the lungs are, but I know how hard he has worked over the past year.
“He was really exceptional in the way he prepared for this tour. It was a shame he suffered this injury, but it’s great to find him. “
Gatland said the selection of the veteran from the four tours was one of many that would be discussed over the next 72 hours in preparation for the first test against South Africa at the same venue next Saturday.
“We will have this discussion to see if there is a role for him, whether as a holder or on the bench. “
Whether Jones is playing or not, he has reprized his role as tour captain.
Irish scrum-half Conor Murray has been named to succeed him after Jones suffered an injury in a game against Japan the day before the Lions left for South Africa.
“Alun Wyn returned to this role. Conor is comfortable with that which is a measure of the man, ”Gatland said.
The coach said he was happy with the preparation for the Test Series, especially after facing a South African A side packed with Springboks on Wednesday.
Gatland has resisted pressure from South African rugby director Rassie Erasmus to play another game against Team A instead of the Stormers.
He said it was justified after seeing a very changed A team lose 17-14 to the Bulls in an earlier game at the stadium on Saturday.
“It’s been a brilliant week for us because we got exactly what we wanted on Wednesday and what’s coming next week.
“I don’t think we would have had that with Team A that they played against the Bulls. We might not have been tested like we were on Wednesday. “
© 2021 AFP