Injury blows for British and Irish Lions coach Gatland ahead of SA tour

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British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland.
British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland.
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British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland’s plans for a strong squad to tour South Africa suffered a double blow within the space of a few days after news that both Welsh utility back George North and England lock Joe Launchbury are out of contention after suffering ACL injuries.

North, whose experience in 105 Tests would have been vital for the Lions, suffered an ACL injury playing for Ospreys in their win over the Cardiff Blues in the Rainbow Cup last weekend.

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Launchbury sustained a similar ACL injury while playing for Wasps against Bath in the English Premiership, with scans confirming the ACL injury. Both players are expected to undergo surgery with the recovery period between six and nine months.

Launchbury has 69 Test caps but missed the Six Nations this year with a stress fracture of his leg. He was, however, expected to be part of Gatland’s plans when he names the final squad on May 6.

Launchbury previously missed out on the 2013 and 2017 Lions tours.

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