CAPE TOWN (Reuters) -British & Irish Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones is to join up with the tour party after recovering from a shoulder injury suffered in their warm-up game before departure for South Africa, the team said on Wednesday.
He will arrive on Thursday after what coach Warren Gatland described as a "miraculous" recovery, having originally withdrawn after dislocating his shoulder early on in the test against Japan in Edinburgh on June 26.
"Following a training session with the Wales squad at the Vale of Glamorgan training headquarters on Tuesday and subsequent medical assessment this morning, the second row was passed fit to return to the tour in South Africa," said a statement on Wednesday ahead of the Lions’ fourth tour match against South Africa A at the Cape Town Stadium.
His return puts the 35-year-old Jones into contention for a place in the first test, also in Cape Town on July 24.
"It’ll come as no surprise to anyone who knows Alun Wyn that since injuring his shoulder against Japan, he’s done everything he can to get himself back. It’s remarkable really when you consider it’s just 18 days since he left us in Edinburgh," Gatland said.
"He’s been training with the Wales squad at the Vale since last week and yesterday he had a proper hit out. Following assessment from the medical staff this morning we’re satisfied he’s fit to return.
"He's obviously raring to go and from what I’ve seen on video and the feedback we’ve received, he’s certainly not been holding himself back in training. He was really getting stuck in yesterday.
"It's a massive boost for the Lions to welcome a player of Alun Wyn's stature back."
Jones is competing in his fourth Lions tour, having first been picked to tour South Africa 12 years ago. He was named captain for this tour, a job that Irish scrumhalf Conor Murray then took on when Jones did not flyout to Johannesburg with the squad at the end of last month.
Last year Jones set a world record for the most number of test appearances and now has 148 caps for Wales and nine Lions tests.
(Writing by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Christian Radnedge)