Gatland says three Lions are nearing full fitness

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The Independent Online

Warren Gatland is optimistic about the fitness of three of his Lions, Gethin Jenkins, Stephen Jones and Ryan Jones, as the World Cup kick-off approaches. Wales play South Africa in Wellington on Sunday.

All three players have calf problems – Jenkins has not played since January and Stephen Jones missed all three World Cup warm-ups.

"The word is they are progressing well and are hopefully going to be fit for selection," said Gatland, the Wales head coach. "If not for this game, then definitely for the second game." Wales play Samoa on 18 September.

Of South Africa, Gatland said: "The last three times we've played them there has been very little in it. We've outscored them seven tries to six.

"We are in pretty good shape. We can match them physically, and that's the key to the battle. We know how tough this group is going to be. If you come out of this group, you're in great shape. But one step at a time: it's South Africa first and then we'll get our heads on and start thinking about Samoa."

Wales complete their Pool D programme against Namibia and Fiji.