Quinnell's tour exit disturbs the Lions

Rugby Union

The Lions have not exactly turned pear-shaped - not yet, at any rate - but a debilitating run of controversy, injury and defeat has given the tour a distinctly warped demeanour. Scott Gibbs' suspension and the premature departures of Doddie Weir and Paul Grayson had already knocked Fran Cotton and his management team back on their heels and yesterday, they took a blow in the solar plexus when Scott Quinnell pulled out of the Test series with groin trouble.

Quinnell aggravated a long-standing muscle condition during the defeat by Northern Transvaal in Pretoria on Saturday and although he completed the game, he was quickly ruled out of further participation by James Robson, the tour doctor, after an emergency consultation on Sunday. "I'm devastated," he said yesterday. "I've worked so hard for this. Now all I can do is go home and watch the series on television."

Although Cotton diplomatically avoided saying as much, Quinnell was a racing certainty for the No 8 berth in the opening Test against the Springboks on Saturday week and his absence deprives the Lions of their most effective ball-carrying forward. The Welshman had also looked sharper and more committed than usual in defence - indeed, he was the Lions' busiest and most accomplished performer against Eastern Province in Port Elizabeth just over a fortnight ago - and the tourists know they have lost one of their most influential figures.

Cotton and his colleagues were not deciding on a replacement until late last night, presumably delaying their deliberations until the England side touched down at Heathrow following their squared Test series in Argentina. Two obvious contenders, Ben Clarke - a Lion in more than one sense of the word in New Zealand four years ago - and Tony Diprose both played against the Pumas last weekend and are considered to be in very sharp form indeed.

However, Quinnell's misfortune carries even more relevance for Eric Miller and Tim Rodber, the respective No 8s of Ireland and England and now direct rivals for a treasured Test cap in Cape Town on 21 June. Miller was seriously downcast after the defeat at Loftus Versfeld - a game in which he was played out of position on the open-side flank - but he will now have an opportunity, probably against Natal on Saturday, to bring his undoubted dynamism to bear in his favoured position. Rodber, meanwhile, captains the side against Gauteng, formerly known as Transvaal, in Johannesburg tomorrow night.

Ian McGeechan, the coach, agreed yesterday that some players might play in both of this week's matches against powerful Super 12 provinces. That should encourage Tom Smith and Paul Wallace, the two ball-handling Celtic props, who came to South Africa as rank outsiders for the Tests but, thanks to their exceptional mobility, are making rather more of an impact than some of their strong-arm colleagues.

Tony Underwood plays his third successive game on the left wing, Mike Catt gets his first start at outside-half and Nigel Redman, the 32-year- old Bath lock who, rumour has it, once played alongside William Webb Ellis, makes perhaps the most popular Lions debut of them all. "I never thought it would happen to me," said Redman, who was called in from Buenos Aires when Weir picked up his serious knee injury in Witbank six days ago. "My wife burst into tears when I told her I'd been summoned. They were definitely tears of joy; after all, she won't be seeing me for another month now " A welcome shaft of humour on a dark day

LIONS (v Gauteng, Johannesburg, tomorrow): N Beal (Northampton and England); J Bentley (Newcastle and England), A Bateman (Richmond and Wales), W Greenwood (Leicester), T Underwood (Newcastle and England); M Catt (Bath and England), A Healey (Leicester and England); T Smith (Watsonians and Scotland), B Williams (Richmond and Wales), P Wallace (Saracens and Ireland), N Redman (Bath and England), J Davidson (London Irish and Ireland), R Wainwright (Watsonians and Scotland), T Rodber (Northampton and England, capt), N Back (Leicester and England). Replacements: J Guscott (Bath and England), N Jenkins (Pontypridd and Wales), M Dawson (Northampton and England), K Wood (Harlequins and Ireland), D Young (Cardiff and Wales), E Miller (Leicester and Ireland).

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions