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Robbie Henshaw has been ruled out of the British and Irish Lions’ fixture against the Sharks on Wednesday because of a hamstring injury.
The Ireland centre impressed in the 28-10 victory over Japan that launched the tour at Murrayfield, but was overlooked for Saturday’s clash with the Sigma Lions and must now sit out a second match.
“Robbie has a very mild hamstring strain which will keep him out of the next game,” a Lions spokesperson said.
Owen Farrell and Chris Harris form the centre partnership for the opening match on South African soil, with Bundee Aki supplying cover from the bench.
Tom Curry is the only member of the original Lions squad not involved in the first two matches of the tour because of a pectoral problem, but the England flanker has trained all week and is available to face the Sharks.
“Tom had bit of an injury when he came in from Sale. He’s training with the guys and was involved today (Friday). We’ll see how he goes over the next few days,” kicking coach Neil Jenkins said.
The door has been opened for Alun Wyn Jones to yet take part in the Test series that opens on July 24 after Warren Gatland revealed the Wales skipper is “optimistic a miracle may happen”.
Having been ruled out of the entire tour, Jones has been told by medics that he could recover from the dislocated shoulder sustained against Japan last Saturday faster than expected because his age of 35 enables short cuts to be taken.
Conor Murray has been appointed captain in his absence while Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg is in command against the Sigma Lions at Emirates Airline Park.
“For him to get back in any way shape or form would be awesome. Warren knows more, but if someone of his calibre becomes available and he’s able to represent us, it becomes a no brainer,” Jenkins said.
“I’ve known Al a long time and I’ve never written him off in any way shape or form. I’ve seen him injured on other occasions but not too many.
“He’s been very lucky in that regard and looks after himself incredibly well. That’s part of the reason why he has minimal injuries.
“Nothing surprises me with Al. He’s an incredible player who looks after himself incredibly well. If anyone can get back to playing in the Test series, then he certainly can.”
The Sigma Lions are comfortably the weakest opponents that Gatland’s men will face in South Africa, but there is always the threat of a provincial side looking to soften the tourists up ahead of the Test series.
However, England flanker Courtney Lawes insists the Lions are looking to leave their own impression on Johannesburg this weekend.
“It’s our first game out here so we need to take a step forward and show what we’re about, what we’re going to be about on this tour and, come the Tests, what kind of pack we’ll be,” Lawes said.
“As a Lions team, regardless of who you play, the opposition are always going to be gunning for you. They’ll always be so up for it and ready to get into you. We’re prepared for that and also want to impose ourselves on the game.
“I haven’t played out in South Africa before so I’m not entirely sure what we’ll get in terms of crap on the pitch or people trying to wind us up, but we’ve got a lot of level-headed players who aren’t looking to scrap on the first game on tour.”