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Zander Fagerson to miss Lions' clash with Japan due to injury

Zander Fagerson to miss Lions' clash with Japan due to injury
© Reuters
The injured duo leave Duhan Van Der Merwe and Rory Sutherland as the two remaining Scotland internationals in the starting line-up.

The British and Irish Lions expect injured Scotland forwards Zander Fagerson and Hamish Watson to be fit for the opening match on South African soil after they were ruled out against Japan.

Fagerson suffered a back spasm while scrummaging that prevented him from training on Thursday and Watson was withdrawn 24 hours earlier after being concussed during an accidental collision on the practice field.

It reduces the Scottish representation in the starting XV for Saturday's pre-tour curtain raiser in Edinburgh from four players to two – wing Duhan Van Der Merwe and loosehead prop Rory Sutherland – with scrum-half Ali Price featuring on the bench.

Warren Gatland originally picked a large home contingent as a nod to the fixture being staged at Murrayfield, where a crowd of 16,500 will be present for only the Lions' third match on these shores.

"It's bad luck for Zander and Hamish given the Lions are playing in Scotland for the first time ever, but I'm sure they'll be raring to when we get to South Africa," attack coach Gregor Townsend said.

"You do have to feel for them. At least they're not missing out on a tour or a Test match. Those are the big ones.

"Obviously this means a lot to the players selected, especially with the fact we have a crowd this weekend in Scotland.

"I'm sure the silver lining is that they're not serious injuries and are not missing that plane for the Lions. They're in good hands to be ready for our next game."

Hamish Watson was forced to withdraw from Saturday's pre-tour curtain raiser in Edinburgh due to concussion in training
Hamish Watson was forced to withdraw from Saturday's pre-tour curtain raiser in Edinburgh due to concussion incurred in training (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The Lions will play the first of eight fixtures in South Africa against the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg on July 3 when Fagerson and Watson, the current Guinness Six Nations player of the year, could make their delayed debuts.

Tadhg Furlong takes Fagerson's place at tighthead prop, creating a vacancy for Kyle Sinckler on the bench, and Justin Tipuric comes in as a straight replacement for Watson at openside flanker.

"We were still hoping this (Thursday) morning that Zander would be able to turn it around," Scotland head coach Townsend said.

"Both him and the medics have been working really hard to get him fit for this weekend, but it wasn't worth pushing because he still felt some pain today.

Murrayfield is to host a Lions fixture for the first time
Murrayfield is to host a Lions fixture for the first time (Jane Barlow/PA)

"It's the first game on tour and we obviously have three tightheads on tour. The best decision for the tour party and for Zander is for him not to play this weekend.

"It's disappointing for him, and for Hamish too. Hamish was on the bike today, so that means he's on the return to play protocols, so you just hope that goes smoothly."

The Lions arrive in Edinburgh on Thursday evening having spent the last 11 days at a training camp in Jersey preparing for their first meeting with Japan and improving overall conditioning for the tour.

South Africa has seen a rising number of coronavirus cases and has entered a form of lockdown, meaning the Lions will soon face greater restrictions.

"We're aware of the situation. We've talked a lot about the protocols we have to follow while we're here in Jersey," Townsend said.

"When we go to Scotland, they're going to be that little bit stricter. We're aware in South Africa it will be different conditions.

"I'm sure our bubble will be much tighter than it has been here. We'll be staying in hotels on our own. It's what we must do to play for the Lions and deliver a winning Test series."

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Scotland's Hamish Watson pictured on October 2020
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Four Scotland internationals to start for Lions against Japan

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States20211657
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia12191344
Great BritainGreat Britain10101232
Today's Olympic highlights header

Sunday's key events

· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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