Belfast Telegraph

Tommy Bowe hoped to regain fitness for Test series against Australia

By Andrew Baldock and Claire Cromie

The British and Irish Lions are hopeful Tommy Bowe can regain full fitness in time for the Test series against Australia.

The Ulster wing underwent surgery on Monda to repair the broken hand he suffered during Saturday's victory over Queensland Reds, but he remains with the squad.

His Ireland colleague Simon Zebo is due to arrive as cover, though, and he should be among the spectators in Newcastle on Tuesday following a flight from Texas, where he played for Ireland against the US Eagles on Saturday.

"Tommy is coming down off morphine now and he's getting his head back together," said Lions assistant coach Andy Farrell.

"He will be in a heavy bandage/plaster for a couple of days. He will then take that off and put it in a lighter splint to try and get the wound to heal as quick as possible.

"The wound is the key thing at this moment in time, making sure that heals and there is no infection. Then he should be fine. The medics will keep assessing him, but it still could be a couple of weeks."

Meanwhile fly-half rookie Stuart Hogg has been backed to make a success of his role in the British and Irish Lions number 10 shirt.

With Jonathan Sexton and Owen Farrell both kept out of the firing line against Tuesday's latest tour opponents - a Combined Country XV - Scotland full-back Hogg will play at first receiver.

And Farrell has no doubt the 20-year-old can shine, having been impressed with his maturity.

"Just watching the kid in training today, it was his first run and he was dictating to the boys on his inside and outside," Farrell said.

"He has been great. He is doing what a fly-half should do - dictating and putting them in the right place. He understands the game-plan and he's got an X factor as well.

"He's got a long kicking game, he's good at kicking at posts in training, and his passing game and running game is exceptional.

"He has to make sure he doesn't confuse himself too much by trying to facilitate too much, and make sure he brings his natural game to the party.

"If you understand what he's about and what his make-up is, he wants to get in there at first receiver and organise. That is what he naturally does, and people who have coached him more than most would tell you exactly the same.

"It is exciting for him and it's exciting for us. I think he is going to do a great job."

Tuesday's game will also see a start for Alex Corbisiero, who arrived in Australia two days ago from England's Argentina tour, while his fellow front-row replacement Ryan Grant is on bench duty, with injured pair Cian Healy and Gethin Jenkins having flown home.

And Farrell believes that both Corbisiero and Grant will slot in comfortably.

"Some of these boys have been together for five weeks now and some have been here (in Australia) for three," Farrell added.

"A lot of water goes under the bridge and there are a lot of things you keep on adding and moving on with.

"They have had their first training session today, and it's as though they've been here for a week or two at least. There has been a lot of of homework. They are working very hard, they will be fine."

Combined NSW-QLD Country v Lions: The teams (KO 10:30 BST)

Combined Country XV: N Trist; A Gibbon, L Catt, T Siaksini, T Cox; A Roberts, M Snowdon; H Hirsimaki, J Mann-Rae, T Metcher, P Battye, B Enever, R Stanford, J Butler, T Davidson (capt).

Replacements: T Kearney, D Evans, R Abraham, R Arnold, T Dyer, A McCormack, S McCarthy, D Ahwang.

Lions: S Maitland (Scotland); A Cuthbert (Wales), B O'Driscoll (Ireland, capt), J Roberts (Wales), G North (Wales); S Hogg (Scotland), C Murray (Ireland); A Corbisiero (England), R Hibbard (Wales), D Cole (England), R Gray (Scotland), I Evans (Wales), S O'Brien (Ireland), J Tipuric (Wales), J Heaslip (Ireland).

Replacements: R Best (Ireland), R Grant (Scotland), M Stevens (England), A-W Jones (Wales), T Faletau (Wales), M Phillips (Wales), J Davies (Wales), L Halfpenny (Wales).

Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia).

Assistant referees: Angus Gardner and James Leckie (both Australia).

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