Lock Paul O’Connell has been ruled out of the remainder of the British and Irish Lions’ Test series against Australia with a fractured arm.
The 85 times-capped Ireland international picked up the injury in Saturday’s 23-21 victory in the first Test at Suncorp Stadium and the extent of the problem was revealed after further assessment.
A statement on the Lions website read: “British & Irish Lions lock Paul O’Connell has been ruled out of the remaining two games of the series against the Qantas Wallabies after suffering a fractured arm.”
Arguably the Lions’ most influential forward, O’Connell had been an integral part of head coach Warren Gatland’s plans as they head to Melbourne 1-0 up.
The 33-year-old is on his third Lions tour, having played in seven Tests, and acted as captain back in the 2009 series against South Africa.
England forward Geoff Parling seems likely to replace O’Connell.
He had been due to skipper the Lions in tomorrow’s game against the Melbourne Rebels but has been withdrawn from the game, the Lions said on their website.
Ireland prop Tom Court, currently in his home city of Brisbane, will join the squad today as cover for Alex Corbisiero, who has a tight calf muscle.
Court will go straight on to the Lions bench for tomorrow’s game.
Away from the injury situation, Gatland last night questioned Kurtley Beale’s choice of footwear as a potential reason for his failure to kick the Lions’ first Test hopes into oblivion.
The Lions held on for victory at Suncorp Stadium, but it would have been different had substitute Beale landed a last-gasp penalty instead of it drifting wide after he slipped on impact.
“If I was a coach looking at Kurtley Beale coming on, I would be looking at the boots he was wearing,” Gatland said.
“He came on to the field wearing ’mouldies’ and he slipped over taking that last kick. He slipped over on a couple of occasions. Why has he come out on the field wearing that sort of footwear in those sort of conditions?”
“We’ve had these issues a lot with our players with Wales at the Millennium Stadium.
“It’s quite a slippery surface, and on a lot of occasions we’ve said to players to make sure they have the right footwear because it is a slippery surface and you have to turn up with the right tools. It’s part of your job, making sure that you are prepared.”
The Lions prevailed through tries in each half by Wales wings George North and Alex Cuthbert, while full-back Leigh Halfpenny kicked five from six shots at goal.
In contrast, Wallabies kickers Beale and James O’Connor saw 14 points go begging as the Lions ultimately repeated their opening Test win in Brisbane of 12 years ago and also overcame some erratic refereeing by New Zealand official Chris Pollock.
“A few players came off the field feeling a bit frustrated. They found it difficult (to understand) a couple of times when they were penalised,” Gatland added.
“Mako Vunipola was penalised for coming in from the side, but he was part of the tackle, and that could have cost us the game at the end.
“One of the strengths of Brian O’Driscoll is his ability to get on the ball and create turnovers, and he just felt he wasn’t able to do that as part of his game because he had been penalised on a couple of occasions.
“He knew if he got penalised again he would get a yellow card, so he stayed away from the ball.
“Craig Joubert (second Test referee) is a very experienced referee. We’ll put last night behind us and it will probably be good for him (Joubert) having been an assistant referee in that match, on the sideline, to know about the pace of the game.
“I thought he was good in terms of the support he gave the referee, and I am looking forward to the number one referee in the world doing next Saturday.”
O'Connell's tour-ending injury has resulted in a reshuffle to the 23 selected for tomorrow's final midweek game against the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park.
In an indication that he will start the second Test against Australia, Geoff Parling has been withdrawn from the XV, with the captaincy given to flanker Dan Lydiate.
Ian Evans takes Parling’s place in the second row with Tom Croft drafted onto the replacements bench.