Wales captain Ryan Jones has been declared unfit for Lions duty and will fly home within days of arriving in South Africa as a tour replacement. Jones had a head injury that forced him off in the first minute of Wales’ win over United States on Saturday and has since been assessed by the medics.
Jones joined the Lions on Thursday as Irishman Stephen Ferris’ replacement. But Lions head coach Ian McGeechan has stated no further replacement will be called up at this stage.
On the day Jones joined the tourists, Wales boss and Lions forwards coach Warren Gatland said Jones may not have had time to stake a Test-place claim during the remainder of the tour. But even that slim opportunity has now been denied to Jones, whose tour was ended following a medical examination in South Africa.
A statement on the Lions website read: (quote) Jones underwent the same routine medical testing as all replacement players joining the tour and it led to the team’s medical staff requesting a further examination by an independent neurosurgeon. This was due to a concern over the player’s recent medical history that included two significant knocks to the head while playing for his country on their recent tour to North America. On the advice of the neurosurgeon, it was determined that it was not safe for Jones to undertake any physical contact for a mandatory three weeks. (end quote)
Jones said:(quote)I am very disappointed that on medical grounds I have been told that I am not currently fit enough to play an active role on the tour. I was looking forward to getting involved with the rest of the lads but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. It has been an up and down year for me in many ways. I feel okay at present but obviously I have to listen to the neurosurgeon’s advice in terms of my health, and to ensure I make a full recovery.(end quote
Jones was a member of the Wales 2005 Grand Slam back-row and was one of the few Lions tourists to New Zealand of that year to shine during a 3-0 Test whitewash. He went on to lead Wales to their 2008 Grand Slam success.