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Graham Rowntree, Warren Gatland and Ian McGeechan
Better To Be Born Lucky Than Rich
6 June 2009, 1:56 pm
By Chris Byrne
Now we need one. Now we dont need one. Anyone.
On Wednesday June 10th Lions management issued a statement saying they had sent for Ryan Jones to replace the injured Stephen Ferris. Jones duly arrived on a Thursday and went back home the following day when it was determined that a knock he took in the tour game against the US Eagles had in fact left him not fit enough to play an active role on the tour. It was the advice of a neurosurgeon that it was not safe for Jones to undertake any physical contact for a mandatory three weeks.

While you might wonder why this information hadn't been made available to the Lions management before Jones took to the airport what is also a little mystifying is why they felt that on Wednesday they needed a replacement but on Friday with Jones on his way home there was no need.

When news of Ferris' injury emerged the likes of Denis Leamy had every reason to make sure the battery on the mobile was full. And when Ryan's condition was revealed hopes of a +0027 calls must have been rekindled.

The decision by Lions management to go without sends out a fairly damning message.

The latest call-up sees London Irish prop Tim Payne being sent for to provide cover for the loose-head prop position because of concerns over England's Andrew Sheridan.

Ahead of the original Lions announcement the word 'form' was used to justify the composition of the squad. That word 'form' comes to mind now with the call up for Payne. He first made his international debut against Australia in Brisbane almost exactly five years ago. It was then two full years before he gained his second cap as a replacement against the same opposition again on a summer tour (2006). His ten subsequent caps include just three Six Nations outings and the two games earlier this month against Argentina.

In opting for Payne the Lions ignore the claims of Marcus Horan (of course we're biased, what d'you expect ?). He has played 66 times for Ireland. Played in three Heineken Cup finals, has been a constant in the Ireland front row and of course was one of the linchpins of this year's Grand Slam side. Payne didn't make it into the England Six Nations 22 for any of their games this season.

James Hook also visits a neurosurgeon today in the expectation that he will be cleared to start against the Emerging Springboks tomorrow in Cape Town. If he doesn't get clearance, Ronan O'Gara will probably start with Stephen Jones on the bench. That will give the pair three days to recover before they play in the second Test on Saturday in Pretoria.

Tom Croft scored two tries on Saturday yet wasn't originally selected to tour.

Always better to be born lucky than rich ?

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