Greenwood and Back on the road to recovery

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The Independent Online
Will Greenwood, the injured Lions centre, should have spent yesterday in the company of the men in white coats, who were keen to scan the ankle ligaments he strained during last weekend's ill-tempered affray with New South Wales in Sydney.

Will Greenwood, the injured Lions centre, should have spent yesterday in the company of the men in white coats, who were keen to scan the ankle ligaments he strained during last weekend's ill-tempered affray with New South Wales in Sydney.

Instead, he spent his time with the men in fancy trousers at the Hope Island championship golf course on Queensland's Gold Coast. The fact that the tall Harlequin managed to smack one tee shot 320 metres and claim the prize for the longest drive of the tournament indicated an improvement in his physical condition.

The Lions management suggested he might return to the selectorial equation for next weekend's second Test with the Wallabies in Melbourne, although that seemed hopeful, given that their preferred inside centre had only just abandoned his crutches. If Greenwood is to secure the Test cap he deserves, he will have to do it from the bench. Assuming he misses Tuesday's final midweek game against the ACT Brumbies in Canberra – an ambush if ever there was one – he will not have a realistic opportunity of reasserting his superiority over Rob Henderson and Scott Gibbs.

Still, the news that no second scan was required lifted the Lions' spirits. There was positive information about Neil Back, too. The Leicester flanker, ruled out of tomorrow's opening Test at The Gabba because of rib problems, should find his way into the frame for Melbourne.

Sadly, the Llanelli hooker Robbie McBryde remained in the negative column, thanks to the thigh condition that has made his life a misery since the game in Townsville. McBryde was expected to be discharged from the party later today. The arrival of Dorian West, the Leicester and England hooker, means the Lions have cover for McBryde in the middle of the front row.

Donal Lenihan, the manager, was not full of the joy after inspecting The Gabba, one of the great cricket grounds of the world but virgin territory for big-time rugby union. The Irishman bemoaned the lack of a decent warm-up area for his team, and expressed concern that the playing surface on and around the cricket square was less than ideal. Needless to say, there was little sympathy for Lenihan in the streets of Brisbane.

The Test is a sell-out, and the atmosphere will be as rabid as it was in the mid-1970s, when local boy Jeff Thomson was putting the fear of God into English batsmen. According to the increasingly confident Wallaby diehards, the Lions do not need a private warm-up area so much as a private chapel.

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