If previous Lions tours have taught us anything it’s that injuries happen and one player’s heartbreak can lead to unrivalled happiness for another player called up late to replace him.
Who could forget Doddie Weir or Rob Howley’s faces as they tried to bottle up the tears as they hear the news that their tour was over in 1997? However, on the flip side, injuries to players like Paul Grayson (1997), Simon Taylor (2001 and 2005) and Lawrence Dallagio (2005) allowed players like Mike Catt, Martin Corry, Ryan Jones and Simon Easterby to don the famous red jersey in a Lions test.
If leaving a Lions squad is heartbreaking, joining it late must be equalling as daunting. So, with the likes of Jerry Flannery (elbow), Tomas O’Leary (ankle), Alan Quinlan (suspension) and Tom Shanklin (shoulder) having to leave even prior to the arrival on South African shores, and now with the unfortunate withdrawal of Stephen Ferris (knee) and now Leigh Halfpenny (thigh), what can we expect of their replacements?
Fortunately for Ross Ford, Mike Blair, Tom Croft and James Hook they have benefited from joining from the outset of the tour. They missed a large chunk of the bonding and training session in Pennyhill prior to leaving for South Africa, but, by now they will be fully fledged members of the squad. Ryan Jones on the other hand will be joining up with the squad half-way through the tour.Each of these players brings their own unique skills to the respective shirt they are vying for.
Can these players make an impact? Will any of them start the first Test? As always let us know your thoughts.