Alun Wyn Jones restored as captain and Test contender - Gatland
Cape Town (AFP) –
"A lot of players put their hands up tonight," said British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland after his team defeated the Stormers 49-3 at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
One of those players was Alun Wyn Jones, who has been restored as tour captain after capping a remarkable recovery from a shoulder injury with a solid performance as a second-half substitute.
Jones arrived in Cape Town on Thursday after defying medical opinion that ruled him out of the tour.
"He put a few shots on, he defended well and there were a few touches," said Gatland. "The big thing for him was to get through that period and see how he was afterwards.
"I have not really spoken to him to see how the lungs are, but I know how hard he was worked over the last year.
"He has really been exceptional in the way he has prepared for this tour. It was a shame he copped that injury, but it is great to have him back."
Gatland said that the selection of the four-tour veteran was one of many that would be discussed over the next 72 hours in the build-up to the first Test against South Africa at the same venue next Saturday.
"We will have that discussion about whether there's a role for him, either as a starter or on the bench."
Whether or not Jones plays, he has resumed his role of tour captain.
Irish scrum-half Conor Murray was named as his successor after Jones was injured during a match against Japan the day before the Lions left for South Africa.
"Alun Wyn has come back into that role. Conor is comfortable with that, which is a measure of the man," said Gatland.
The coach said he was satisfied with the build-up to the Test series, especially having played a Springbok-packed South Africa A team on Wednesday.
Gatland resisted pressure from South African director of rugby Rassie Erasmus to play another game against the A side instead of the Stormers.
He said this was justified after seeing a much-changed A team lose 17-14 to the Bulls in an earlier match at the stadium on Saturday.
"It has been a brilliant week for us because we got exactly what we wanted in terms of Wednesday and what is coming next week.
"I do not think we would have got that with the A team that they put out against the Bulls. We possibly would not have been tested like we were on Wednesday."
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