EXPERIENCED LOCK PAUL O’Connell has been ruled out of the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia with a broken arm, officials said on Monday.
The Irish forward, 33, suffered a fractured lower right arm in Saturday’s 23-21 victory over the Wallabies in the first Test at Brisbane, in what is a massive blow for the tourists.
O’Connell, who has appeared 85 times for Ireland and has played in the last seven Lions Tests, is regarded as the cornerstone of their forward pack with his leadership and is on his third Lions tour.
England lock Geoff Parling, who was a second-half replacement for Alun Wyn Jones in Brisbane, will likely take over from O’Connell in Saturday’s Melbourne Test.
Parling was due to captain the Lions in their final mid-week match against the Rebels in Melbourne on Tuesday, but has now been withdrawn from the side, officials said.
Ian Evans moves up from the bench to take his place in the second row alongside Richie Gray, with Tom Croft joining the match day 23-man squad.
Wales blindside flanker Dan Lydiate will now lead the side against the Rebels in place of Parling.
Officials, who announced the O’Connell blow on the Lions official Twitter feed, said there were no plans to call up a tour replacement for him at this stage.
O’Connell’s setback follows news on Sunday that England prop Alex Corbisiero is unlikely to be fit for the Melbourne Test with a calf injury.
Team management have already drafted in Ireland’s Tom Court as a replacement for Corbisiero and named him among the replacements for the Rebels’ tour game.
Court was the eighth call-up to the Lions touring party as an injury reinforcement.