Halfpenny wants more Lions action

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The Independent Online

Wales wing Leigh Halfpenny is anxious for a quick return to duty after what he admitted was a "frustrating" British and Irish Lions debut.

The Lions have just three games left before their opening Test match against world champions South Africa on June 20.

And after a tense 26-24 victory over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday, Halfpenny wants to face the Sharks at King's Park on Wednesday night.

Lions head coach Ian McGeechan will name his starting line-up later today, with England centre Riki Flutey expected to make a first full tour appearance after recovering from knee trouble.

"I want to play as much as I can before the first Test and show what I can do," said Halfpenny.

"It was frustrating at times because the game seemed to pass me by.

"When I get my chance again, I will be doing exactly the same again, and probably things will go my way this time.

"Hopefully I will get another chance. I was a bit frustrated with my game, personally.

"There were times we thought we had them (Cheetahs) in attack and just lost that last ball - that last pass just didn't go to hand.

"But there are no excuses. I need to get myself in better positions in the next game to show what I can do."

The Lions have set up camp alongside the Indian Ocean - accompanied by a glowing fitness bulletin from team doctor James Robson.

Only Wales flanker Martyn Williams is unavailable for selection to face the Sharks.

And Robson, who is on a fifth successive Lions tour, claims it is an unprecedented situation during his 16-year association with the tourists.

Robson reported no fresh injury concerns, with Williams (shoulder) expected to be fully fit by the time of next Saturday's clash with Western Province in Cape Town.

"The Lions are in very rude health at the moment," said Robson.

"As of now, all but one of the party are available for Geech (McGeechan) to select from."

Robson revealed the full extent of injuries to Flutey and Keith Earls, admitting a combination of their determination and expert medical care had avoided a painfully early flight home from South Africa.

"Keith had a collision type of injury you see in a car accident, a seat belt type of collision," added Robson.

"He bled very badly into his pectoral muscle, and he strained his AC and SC joints.

"It's testament to his character and the hard work that both he and (physio) Phil Pask, who has inflicted an awful lot of pain on the poor boy to get him back to excellent health, have done.

"That has been, from my point of view, the kind of ethos of this squad. The professionalism they've shown in response to injury has been absolutely remarkable - the best I've seen in any squad."

As for Flutey, Robson said: "Riki did quite a nasty piece of damage to his knee a week ago, so much so that I thought he would be the first person out of South Africa.

"Almost two-hourly he has been attending treatment, and that includes treating himself through the night.

"I initially thought that Keith and Riki would be going home together, and I think it's just that determination and the care they've had.

"I can't remember any time at this comparative stage in any of the tours I've been on when we only had one person not fit for selection after three games."