Coach Warren Gatland has said that Owen Farrell, the British and Irish Lions backline star, has managed to shake off a thigh strain and will be available for the first Test against the All Blacks this weekend.
Farrell strained his quadriceps at training last week and had to miss the team’s victory against the Maori All Blacks over the weekend. However, Gatland said that his absence was precautionary and that he could have played if necessary.
Speaking this week Gatland said, “Owen could have played on Saturday. Had it been a Test match he would have played. We just made a decision that it wasn’t worth taking that risk. It’s a quad strain that was very high and not on his kicking leg. It’s on his left leg. I’ve no doubt he will be 100 per cent fit.”
It is almost certain that Farrell will be part of the team facing the All Blacks at Eden Park, either at fly-half or inside centre.
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In other team news, defence coach Andy Farrell (Owen’s father) has said that Sam Warburton is “battle-hardened” and improving every day as the team come closer to the Test.
Warburton suffered an angle injury in the tour opening 13-7 win over the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians and has been struggling to get back to his best ever since. He was left out of the squad that played the chiefs in Hamilton but he does seem likely to be included in Saturday’s Test squad.
Speaking about Warburton Farrell said, “Sam by his own account will tell you that he might have been a little rusty at the start, but he’s getting better and better every day. His body’s in good condition, and he’s battle-hardened like the rest of them.”