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Williams on track to return from head injury for Lions' first Test

The Irish contingent are all fit and available to face the Springboks.

William is set to be fit for the first Test.
William is set to be fit for the first Test.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

THE LIONS HAVE confirmed that Wales international Liam Williams is on track to recover from his head injury ahead of this weekend’s first Test against the Springboks.

Williams was forced off during last Wednesday’s defeat to South Africa A but is coming through his return-to-play protocols and is set to be available for the first Test.

Scotland out-half Finn Russell won’t feature, however, due to his ongoing Achilles tendon issue.

Otherwise, Lions assistant coach Steve Tandy this morning confirmed a clean bill of health for the tourists.

Henshaw came through his return from a hamstring issue against the Stormers on Saturday unscathed, while tour captain Alun Wyn Jones also made a successful return from his shoulder injury.

The clean bill of health means that Ireland’s Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Conor Murray, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, Tadhg Beirne, and Jack Conan are all in the mix for first Test involvement. It’s not expected that recent call-up Rónan Kelleher will be included, having not featured on the pitch yet on this tour. 

Assistant coach Steve Tandy said yesterday’s Test team selection meeting had been intense.

“There are going to be massive decisions,” said Tandy. “There are going to be a lot of unlucky players. We had an initial selection meeting last night which was a long one, covering all bases, a lot of people have put their hands up.

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“It is a great place for us as coaches to be. There will be bitter disappointment but I believe in this squad there is such a tight connection that everyone will be geared up to winning that first Test whether you are in the 23 or not.

“It [the meeting] was probably an hour and a half, maybe longer. It was a good initial one. We were becoming clearer and clearer as we went along and we will confirm that and Gats will announce that an appropriate time.

“It was one of the toughest things I have ever been involved in because so many people have been involved in terms of putting their best foot forwards.”

It is expected that the Lions players will be told who is involved in the Test 23 today, although the matchday squad won’t be officially named until 10am on Thursday.

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Murray Kinsella

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