Alun Wyn Jones was named captain of the original touring party
Alun Wyn Jones is poised to make a dramatic return to the British and Irish Lions squad in South Africa after making a “remarkable recovery” from the dislocated shoulder he sustained in the pre-tour match against Japan last month.
Warren Gatland, the Lions head coach, confirmed that Jones, 35, had returned to full training with Wales and a decision would be made on Tuesday after a further medical update.
Telegraph Sport reported 10 days ago that Jones was optimistic of making a full recovery from the injury and still hoped to rejoin the squad for what would be his fourth Lions tour.
Asked if the Wales lock could join the squad in Cape Town, Gatland said: “There’s a possibility as he is back in training. We’re waiting for the medical reports to see what happens with that.
"A few weeks ago we didn’t think it was an option and he has been back fully training with Wales this and he’s doing a double session tomorrow with them.
"We’ll see what the outcome of that is. He has made a remarkable recovery in terms of the injury, the assessment was initially that it wasn’t as bad as they first thought.
"It’s a real positive and it would be a boost to the squad to have someone of his experienced and calibre to come back in.”
Jones had been in talks with both Gatland and the Lions physios and an assessment about his potential return to the squad since the assessment of the injury was deemed it not to be as serious as first feared.
Gatland was forced to call up Wales lock Adam Beard as a replacement for Jones and appointed Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray as his new tour captain following a series of meetings with his coaches before the squad departed for Johannesburg on Sunday.
Murray, who had to self-isolate for three days last week after being identified as a close contact of a player who had first tested positive, was on Monday named as captain for the first time on tour for the game against a strong South Africa ‘A’ side in Cape Town on Wednesday.
“I probably wasn’t expecting them to be as strong as they are, they’re obviously short of games, but I’m absolutely delighted with the team they’ve put out because that helps our preparation immensely,” Gatland added.
“We’ll get a bit of a feel of where we are and what things we need to work on in the 10 days leading into the first Test. I’m really pleased with how strong that team is because, even though it’s a South Africa ‘A’ team it’s going to be a tough challenge and everything is about winning the Test series and preparing for that. I keep referring back to 2009, when we had the first Test we had played teams that were understrength in terms of not having the Springboks and we weren’t quite ready or we thought we were a little bit better prepared than we were.
“That’s in the back of mind so the fact that I’ve seen that side, we’ll get a good indication of where both teams are after Wednesday night’s match.”