Shanklin's shoulder injury adds to McGeechan woes
Wales centre Tom Shanklin has been ruled out of action for 16 weeks by his club – ending his hopes of touring South Africa with the British and Irish Lions. The 29-year-old dislocated his right shoulder in Cardiff Blues' Magners League victory over Newport Gwent Dragons on Wednesday and was immediately taken to hospital for an X-ray. A further scan yesterday revealed the need for reconstructive surgery on the joint, and with the Lions heading for Africa in just 17 days' time, Shanklin's hopes of facing the Springboks are over.
The Blues chief executive, Robert Norster, said: "I'm sure I can speak on behalf our the entire Blues family, indeed the entirety of Wales when I offer our sympathies to Tom following his devastating shoulder injury suffered last night that will prevent him travelling with the Lions to South Africa this summer.
"Tom and all our other Lions heading south have given their very best for the Blues and their country this year and such injuries hardly seem fitting or fair. Suffice to say Tom picked up the injury whilst giving his all for our team and we are all feeling for him at this difficult time of disappointment and frustration."
The powerful midfielder walked gingerly off the Arms Park pitch with his right arm wrapped in his shirt late on in Wednesday's 26-12 victory. Shanklin, who had earlier scored a try, appeared to pop the joint as he crashed to the floor in contact. He had been pencilled in for a possible place in the Lions Test side, when his physical presence would have been a potentially vital asset against the muscular Springboks. His absence could now open the door for international team-mate Gavin Henson, although his chances are hampered by a lack of recent action.
Shanklin's disappointment presents another major poser for Lions head coach Ian McGeechan, who has had his fair share of troubles since announcing a 37-man tour squad last month.
Munster and Ireland scrum-half Tomas O'Leary was ruled out of the 10-match trip just three days after being selected for it due to a broken ankle suffered in a Magners League game. McGeechan and his coaching staff have yet to choose a replacement, although a decision is likely after this weekend's Guinness Premiership play-offs, with England's Danny Care among the leading candidates.
The Munster flanker Alan Quinlan could be another casualty – but for for totally different reasons. Quinlan was cited for allegedly making contact with the eyes or eye area of Leinster captain Leo Cullen during last Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final in Dublin that Leinster won 25-6.
Quinlan now faces a disciplinary hearing, with the possibility of a lengthy ban. England flanker Tom Croft and Wales captain Ryan Jones would be among the contenders to replace him.
The first tour match against a Highveld XV in Rustenburg is on 30 May.
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