Lions crisis meeting after Tommy Bowe blow

Irish wing becomes third player forced home with injury after breaking hand in win over Queensland

Brisbane

Warren Gatland and his fellow members of the Lions hierarchy went into coaching conclave here last night following the loss of a third player in the space of 24 hours. The latest casualty was by some distance the most significant: Tommy Bowe, the Ireland wing, who suffered a broken hand a few minutes into the second half of a tough game against a dangerous Queensland Reds outfit and was immediately ruled out of the remainder of this 10-match tour.

Even before receiving a full medical bulletin, Gatland acknowledged that this was the end of the road for a player who won his first Lions Test caps in South Africa in 2009. "According to the medics he'll probably need an operation," he said. "I think you can deduce from this that he'll play no further part. I would say that's it as far as Tommy is concerned."

With two loosehead props, Cian Healy of Ireland and Gethin Jenkins of Wales, flying back home today with ankle and calf injuries respectively, a British and Irish Lions party find themselves orthopaedically challenged once again. Repeatedly in recent tours, they have taken early blows on the personnel front. While the departures of Healy and Jenkins are unlikely to have too savage an impact – the form of the young Saracens forward Mako Vunipola has been sufficiently revelatory to make him a favourite for the First Test against the Wallabies, and there are sound reinforcements in Alex Corbisiero of England and Ryan Grant of Scotland – the demise of Bowe is a different kettle of calamity.

Simon Zebo, the off-the-wall wing from Ireland who scored one of the cleverest Six Nations tries in living memory back in February, was close to a place in the original party, but the bigger, stronger Tim Visser of Scotland would be more of a like-for-like replacement. Gatland and company will make a decision today.

Manu Tuilagi was off the field by the end of the first quarter, complaining of a Jonny Wilkinson-type "stinger" injury to his shoulder. There was also another nasty scare when Jonny Sexton, nailed on for the No 10 berth in the opening Test with the Wallabies a week next Saturday, needed treatment for a stretched hamstring. But afterwards, Gatland insisted that actually both players were "fine".

Much of the Australian interest yesterday was focused on Quade Cooper, the midfield trickster who last year described the Wallaby environment as "toxic" and has not played international rugby since. His many supporters want him recalled to the Test squad currently preparing for the serious business with the Lions, and while he did not touch the heights yesterday, he did not look short of brilliant attacking ideas.

Asked for the umpteenth time whether he felt Cooper should be drafted in, the Reds coach, Ewen McKenzie, nodded. "I'll answer that one the same way as I always do, because I'm biased," he said. "I'd pick Quade every week."

When Gatland was asked the same question, his reply was more nuanced. "If the Wallabies play Quade at 10, we'll get the full bag of tricks and we'll have to pay close attention to him," he said. "If they play someone else, they could be more structured. Will the Wallabies try to run us off our feet in the way the Reds tried to do it here? I hope so, because I think we'll be in pretty good shape physically when we get to the Tests.

"We've trained really hard and taken something out of our legs as a result, so for us to suck it up and come out ahead in this game, the toughest we'll face outside of the series, bodes well."

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

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss