British and Irish Lions: Alun Wyn Jones could make surprise return to squad as rocky South Africa tour appears on firmer footing

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The Lions’ rocky tour of South Africa appears on firmer footing ahead of Wednesday’s “unofficial Fourth Test”, while Alun Wyn Jones is bidding to complete a remarkable comeback from a dislocated shoulder.

Captain Jones suffered the injury in the pre-tour warm-up against Japan at Murrayfield and was immediately ruled out of the trip. Conor Murray stepped up as captain and Adam Beard, the Wales lock, joined the tour.

But it appears that Jones could complete a sensational recovery. He will join a double training session today with Wales (who face Argentina on Saturday), with a decision to be made on whether he flies out to South Africa tomorrow.

Having moved to Cape Town for at least their next three matches, the Lions face South Africa A tomorrow evening.

After their game against Georgia was cancelled because of a raft of Covid-19 cases in the camp, the Springboks are using the game as vital Test preparation, with 11 of the starting side (which is captained by centre Lukhanyo Am) part of the World Cup-winning squad of 2019.

The strength of the side has seen Murray label the game a fourth Test. Tomorrow’s match will provide by some distance their sternest test of the tour, especially up front, with the Boks picking a mighty pack including Eben Etzebeth, Steven Kitshoff and Pieter-Steph du Toit.

The Lions, whose 38-man squad is being stretched by injuries — Owen Farrell and Robbie Henshaw are expected to be involved against the Stormers on Saturday — have also fielded a strong side, which includes Murray and Dan Biggar at half-back.

The Lions have rejected the Springboks’ request to replace provincial side the Stormers with another South Africa A fixture on Saturday. That is the final hit-out before the First Test on July 24 for the Lions, who still have plenty of decisions to make about the shape of their side.

The Boks have a group of players self-isolating after contracting Covid-19, including captain Siya Kolisi and fly-half Handre Pollard, both of whom appear unlikely to make the First Test.

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