British and Irish Lions 2017: Owen Farrell ruled out of Maori All Blacks game with injury

Farrell's place among the replacements is taken by Dan Biggar

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The Independent Online

Owen Farrell has been ruled out of this weekend’s British and Irish Lions clash against the Maori All Blacks, with Dan Biggar taking his place among the replacements to throw his participation in the Test series against New Zealand into major doubt.

The England fly-half was the odds-on favourite to start the first Test against the All Blacks next Saturday, but it was confirmed on Thursday that he has suffered a quadriceps strain in training ahead of this weekend’s game against the Maori - known as the unofficial "fourth Test - at the International Stadium in Rotorua.

The 25-year-old started the 12-3 win over the Crusaders last weekend, and his impressive performance in Christchurch – along with his match-winning contribution during the tour-opening victory against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians – looked to have guaranteed his place in the Test side as the starting fly-half.

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It is not yet clear how bad the injury is, with the Lions staff describing the knock as a “grade one strain”, which on average takes around 10 days to heal fully. While it should not be enough to end his tour prematurely, it does put his place in the first Test – in nine days’ time – in major doubt, with the coaching team now set to monitor his recovery in the hope he will recover in time to face the All Blacks.


Farrell suffered the injury in training on Thursday (Getty)

The news is a massive blow to the Lions, having already lost Billy Vunipola to injury pre-tour and Stuart Hogg to a broken eye socket and damaged cheekbone this week,  meaning that they could be without three key players for the first of three Tests against the reigning world champions.

It would put Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton, who starts the game against the Maori, in pole position to claim the No 10 shirt for the first Test, having started all three games with Australia four years ago.