Rowntree would like O’Connell to stay on
The Lions forwards’ coach stresses the need to look forward rather than dwell on injury
Paul O’Connell will miss the rest of the tour with an arm injury. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images
British and Irish Lions assistant coach Graham Rowntree today refused to dwell on Paul O’Connell’s tour-ending fractured arm.
O’Connell sustained the injury in the 23-21 victory over Australia in the first Test at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday, and it was announced today that he would play no further part in the series.
The Ireland lock has been told he can remain with the Lions rather than returning home, but has yet to make a decision on whether he will stay Down Under.
“Paul’s a massive loss. He’s such a big influence on the group and has been playing exceptionally well. But you have to get on with these things,” Rowntree said.
“I’d like him to stay on, but I’m not sure what he’ll do. You just have to roll with the punches when it comes to injuries.”
Rowntree refused to react to the news that Australia captain James Horwill has escaped punishment for his stamp on Alun-Wyn Jones in the first Test in Brisbane.
Horwill appeared before a disciplinary hearing in Melbourne yesterday and, to the dismay of Lions fans, was cleared of the third-minute incident that left Jones requiring stitches.
“It’s happened, we move on,” Rowntree said. “We have enough to get on with the Test coming up on Saturday and we accept that decision and get on with it.”
Rowntree revealed that a clearer picture over Alex Corbisiero’s calf injury will emerge over the next 24-48 hours and was unable to give an update on Jamie Roberts’ hamstring problem.
O’Connell’s Ireland team-mate Sean O’Brien spoke of the void left by the 2009 Lions skipper’s exit from the tour.
“Paul’s obviously a massive loss. It’s a decision for him to make if he wants to stay on. He’s a big influence. Personally I’d like to see him stay on,” O’Brien said.
“The injuries aren’t too big a problem. We have lads to cover in all positions and that shows the strength of the squad.”
O’Connell’s departure has resulted in a reshuffle to the 23 selected for tomorrow’s final midweek game against the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park.
“I’m over the moon. When (coach) Warren Gatland asked me, I didn’t hesitate to say yes,” Lydiate said. “I’m chuffed and really excited for tomorrow. It’s a massive honour.
“I won’t keep talking. I’ll just try to get my point across — lead as I play. I’ll try to keep it simple. Saturday was a massive win and tomorrow we have the chance to keep that momentum going into what will be an even bigger test.”