Tommy Bowe ‘highly unlikely’ to be available for Lions’ first Test

But winger back running as Jamie Roberts also looks set to miss out

Tommy Bowe trains at the North Sydney Oval with the help of a hand splint. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Tommy Bowe trains at the North Sydney Oval with the help of a hand splint. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Tue, Jun 18, 2013, 11:22

All will be revealed on Thursday, when both Test teams will be announced, but as with the Wallabies holding out the hope of Digby Ioane making a surprise recovery from his knee operation in time for Saturday’s game in Brisbane, similarly the Lions’ Dr James Robson yesterday declined to entirely rule out George North, Tommy Bowe or Jamie Roberts, although his views about the Welsh winger being ready for the fray seem to be far too optimistic.

Bowe, with a hand splint, was back running yesterday.

“He is doing very well. He will be re-assessed by the hand surgeon later this week,” said Robson, who added that “the IRB guidelines are very clear as to use of various (protective) materials. We will not allow Tommy Bowe to play unless we feel medically, he is able to.

“He had the fracture stabilised and we will give him a couple of weeks to decide. It is difficult, we give you a snapshot which is from when I last saw the players. Tommy is confounding us. He has good grip strength back and is very keen to go. The problem we might have with Tommy is reining him in a bit.”

As for North, who also resumed running yesterday, Robson said “an accurate assessement on his availability for selection will take place on Wednesday.

“At the moment I think he is doing very well and has a great chance of being fit for this week. We wouldn’t allow him to play if there was any significant risk. We will only return him to the coaches for selection if we are confident medically he is fine.

“Jamie Roberts is likely to be not available. Bowe is highly unlikely and we never were really targeting this.”

As for Brian O’Driscoll, who strained his groin in the win over Combined Country last Tuesday, Robson said: “He is very well. There is no doubt as we get older you have to conserve your energies for the things that matter.

“There are a couple of guys who I have said to Warren they should not be training today. They tend to be older members of the squad.

“There is no doubt about Brian for Saturday unless he falls over this afternoon.”