Halfpenny withdrawn from Sharks clash
June 9, 2009
Halfpenny faces a scan on his thigh that will reveal the extent of the injury © Getty Images
Wales wing Leigh Halfpenny and Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris have handed the British & Irish Lions a double injury scare.
Halfpenny, who arrived in South Africa late after remaining at home to undergo intensive treatment on a thigh injury, has aggravated the same injury in training. He was to have been on the bench for tomorrow night's fourth tour fixture against the Sharks at Absa Stadium, but his place has now been taken among the substitutes by Wales colleague James Hook.
Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris has also gone for a scan in Durban after pulling up with a sore knee during training today.
"He [Halfpenny] has aggravated his old injury," said Lions assistant coach Shaun Edwards. "He recovered very quickly from the last time. It is nowhere near as bad as that, so we will wait and see. Scans are amazing things nowadays, so we will wait to see what that says. He was doing some extra training at the end of a session, practising his kicking, and he just felt it strain up a little bit."
One of those Lions under pressure to deliver a big performance to boost their Test chance is winger Shane Williams who gifted an interception score to Cheetahs centre Corne Uys last Saturday.
"I expect Shane to continue to defend the way he has been on this trip. He has stepped up to the plate, defensively," added Edwards. "I've said to him that players like him who are touching the ball and playing right in the faces of the defence, at certain times are going to get passes picked off.
"He has to continue to do that, don't be scared and don't go back on the wing, hoping the game passes by. He has got to continue to force himself on to the game. In training yesterday he had a real spring in his step and I am really looking forward to him playing."
Lions captain Paul O'Connell has also vowed to limit the turnovers that blighted the tourists' performance in the narrow win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
"The breakdown and what goes on at the ruck in terms of quick ball is the most important part of the game," admitted the skipper. "We've been working on it and we will continue to work on it right up until the end of the tour.
"With three games to go, we are halfway through the build-up before the first Test and probably places are still up for grabs. The more I think the squad believes that and the more it continues that way, the happier the squad will be."
Meanwhile, Sharks coach John Plumtree has expressed his disappointment that the large bulk of his Springboks will not be lining up against the Lions.
"Personally, I think the (South African) provinces should be at full strength," said former Swansea boss Plumtree, who coached Wellington against the 2005 Lions. "A tour like this is unique and there should be less emphasis on just winning Test matches, more a celebration of rugby.
"It's a pity we don't have a full-strength Sharks tomorrow. It is not a criticism, it's just a real pity. It seems to be the way of the modern Lions tour."