Lions call in cover for injured Finn Russell, but it's not Johnny Sexton 1 year ago

Lions call in cover for injured Finn Russell, but it's not Johnny Sexton

Another whopper blow to the Lions.

Finn Russell is nursing an Achilles injury that may yet rule him out of the remainder of the British & Irish Lions' Tour to South Africa. There is a call-up for Marcus Smith but Johnny Sexton is not required by Warren Gatland.

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The Scotland star had, earlier today, been replaced on the Lions' bench by Bundee Aki, for the Saturday clash with Cell C Sharks. The Achilles injury that has ruled him out of the game appears to be more serious than first thought.

As it is, the Lions are calling up Harlequins outhalf Marcus Smith. The 22-year-old only made his England debut against the USA, last weekend, and started for Eddie Jones' side against Canada today.

Indeed, he will have been initially unaware of his call-up as he was still playing at Twickenham as the news broke:

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As the Lions have stated in their short post, Russell will remain on in what will be a 38-man squad now. That leaves Smith dicing with Owen Farrell and Test XV favourite Dan Biggar for a role in the upcoming series with South Africa.

"We’re obviously disappointed for Finn, who I think has been outstanding since he came into camp in Jersey, but we are optimistic he’ll still play an important role in the Tour," said Warren Gatland.

"We have two experienced fly halves in Owen Farrell and Dan Biggar, so it’s a great opportunity for the continued development of Marcus. I’ve been following him closely for the past 12 months and I’ve been impressed with how well he’s matured as a player.

"Finn and Marcus are similar in that they like to play with a bit of freedom, so, for me, it’s as close to a like-for-like cover as we can get. We look forward to welcoming him to the group in Cape Town."

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Interestingly, and maddeningly for some Irish fans, there has been no call-up for two-time Lions star Johnny Sexton. The Ireland captain has not played since getting concussed against Exeter Chiefs in early April but Andy Farrell has said the 35-year-old has been training fully and has been cleared to play after some concussion issues.

When Sexton missed out on the initial Lions squad, Ulster outhalf Ian Madigan argued it had been a poor call. He told House of Rugby Ireland:

"The biggest frustration for him, is you look at the guys that have been picked ahead of him - the likes of Owen Farrell or Finn Russell - he completely outplayed them in the Six Nations."

Leicester and England outhalf George Ford will be the other No.10 gutted to miss out.

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LISTEN TO HOUSE OF RUGBY'S LIONS SERIES: EPISODE 3