Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

O'Connell injury a big concern

Paul O'Connell is receiving treatment for an arm injury

The British and Irish Lions are sweating on the fitness of arguably their most influential forward - Paul O'Connell.

The Former Lions captain is nursing an arm injury, with the Lions saying he continues to be "treated and assessed". The 85 times-capped Ireland lock is an integral part of Lions head coach Warren Gatland's plans as they head to Melbourne 1-0 up in the Test series against Australia.

England forward Geoff Parling would be the obvious replacement if O'Connell is sidelined, while Ireland prop Tom Court, who is currently in his home city of Brisbane, will join the squad on Monday as cover for Alex Corbisiero, who has a tight calf muscle.

Court will go straight on to the Lions bench for Tuesday's clash against the Melbourne Rebels.

Away from the injury situation, Gatland has questioned Kurtley Beale's choice of footwear as a potential reason for his failure to kick the Lions' first Test hopes into oblivion.

The Lions held on for a 23-21 victory at Suncorp Stadium, but it would have been different had substitute Beale landed a last-gasp penalty instead of it drifting wide after he slipped on impact.

"If I was a coach looking at Kurtley Beale coming on, I would be looking at the boots he was wearing," Gatland said. "He came on to the field wearing 'mouldies' and he slipped over taking that last kick. He slipped over on a couple of occasions. Why has he come out on the field wearing that sort of footwear in those sort of conditions?"

The Lions prevailed through tries in each half by Wales wings George North and Alex Cuthbert, while full-back Leigh Halfpenny kicked five from six shots at goal.

In contrast, Wallabies kickers Beale and James O'Connor saw 14 points go begging as the Lions ultimately repeated their opening Test win in Brisbane of 12 years ago and also overcame some erratic refereeing by New Zealand official Chris Pollock.

"A few players came off the field feeling a bit frustrated. They found it difficult (to understand) a couple of times when they were penalised," Gatland added.

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