The fact that Warren Gatland named three injured players in his Lions squad gives you an indication of the importance of these men.
Sam Warburton, of course, is the captain and is expected to take the number seven jersey in the Test team to face the All Blacks. He picked up a medial ligament sprain in the Cardiff Blues’ draw with Ulster last month in Belfast.
For Alun Wyn Jones, the Welsh captain hasn’t played rugby since picking up a shoulder injury during the Six Nations against France.
The same goes with Conor Murray, he picked up a ‘stinger’ injury to his shoulder in Ireland’s loss to Wales at the Principality Stadium in the penultimate round of this year’s championship.
That injury seemed to be further aggravated due to the Irish management’s decision to keep Murray on the pitch for a period in the second half.
Both Jones and Murray are expected to take the second row and scrum half positions in the Test match against the All Blacks.
It would have been a concern for the Lions management that all three players haven’t played rugby for quite some time but thankfully Warren Gatland has provided a positive injury update on the trio which will alleviate fears for supporters of Lions and the players’ respective clubs.
With regards to Warburton, Blues’ coach, Danny Wilson, stated that the Lions captain is “quite a long way away” from returning to action.
He needs game time https://t.co/AAsRjZSwLz
— Pundit Arena Rugby (@PunditRugby) May 3, 2017
But Gatland’s update is a lot more positive as he reveals to Sky Sports.
“He’s good. I spoke to Sam yesterday and he feels that he could play now…I expect him to play before he goes to New Zealand,” Gatland said.
With regards to Murray, the Kiwi coach believes that he will get game time for Munster before the season is out and this is in line with the positive updates which have been coming out of the Munster camp in recent days.
“The prognosis with him [Murray] looks pretty positive in terms of hopefully getting back and getting a game for Munster as well, and that’ll be good for him over the next few weeks if he can get a game.”
Finally, Jones was paid a visit from Steve Borthwick during the week and the Lions management are also earmarking a return for Jones in their semi-final PRO12 clash which will take place in under three weeks time.
“[Jones] is making good progress as well. Steve Borthwick went down and saw him last week and he’s confident that he’s going to be okay as well.”
Some timely good news for Lions supporters but with many of the Lions players involved in the backend of the season for their respective clubs as they look to secure silverware, Gatland will be one worried man as he watches on from the stands.