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Tommy Bowe questions viability of Lions Tour but Iain Henderson’s big game goes ahead despite positive Covid test returned by staff member

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Iain Henderson is due to captain the Lions this evening. Pic: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Iain Henderson is due to captain the Lions this evening. Pic: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Iain Henderson is due to captain the Lions this evening. Pic: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Tommy Bowe has questioned the viability of the whole British and Irish Lions Tour after a tumultuous 24 hours ended with a member of the management team returning a positive test for Covid-19.

Iain Henderson's big game is going ahead tonight despite four further members of the party, including two players, being identified as close contacts hours before the match with the Sharks, which will now kick off an hour later at 7pm UK and Irish time.

"I'm very worried,” Bowe told Sky Sports. "I have to be honest, with a lot of Covid cases in the South African camp coming up yesterday, there's Covid cases in the Georgian camp who of course South Africa were meant to play in a friendly this weekend.

"And then I thought the Lions had escaped it. I thought the protocols and the quarantine they are in in their hotel, it looked like it was holding firm, but unfortunately, ahead of their match with the Sharks tonight, there is a case with one of the management and close contacts. It just shows how volatile it is in South Africa.

"Going forward, I don't know, is this Tour viable at this stage? There's a number of staff who I would worry about, who are a little bit elderly and if they were to get Covid, that's where the danger is.

"I think from the players' point of view, they're all double vaccinated, so you would hope that they would be able to get over it and make it through the Tour, but at this stage it's looking pretty dodgy."

This latest setback to preparations comes after a catastrophic 24 hours for the tour that saw Saturday's match against the Bulls postponed after positive cases in the South African side while the Springboks and Georgia saw their Test on Friday cancelled after outbreaks in both camps.

“We have followed all necessary precautions since the start of the Tour, which included regular testing and rigorous COVID-19 counter measure planning and protocols,” said Ben Calveley, Managing Director for the British & Irish Lions.

“Our priority is to ensure the health and safety of the entire touring party, which is why we quickly isolated the players and staff upon receiving the news of the positive result.

“Everyone has subsequently been lateral flow and PCR tested. The Medical Advisory Group await the results of the PCR testing in order to make a decision on tonight’s game.

“The five individuals effected will be monitored closely during isolation and receive the best possible medical attention as we await the results of their PCR tests.

“Further updates will follow in due course.”

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