Ford called up to Lions squad to replace Flannery

By Mike Collett

LONDON (Reuters) - Scotland hooker Ross Ford was named in the British and Irish Lions team on Friday as the replacement for injured Irishman Jerry Flannery.

Flannery tore ligaments in his left elbow in training on Wednesday and was due to undergo surgery on the injury on Friday.

He became the fourth man from the original squad to withdraw from the tour of South Africa which starts on May 30. The squad fly out on Sunday.

Flannery's loss is Ford's gain and means a call-up for the 25-year-old Edinburgh hooker who played in all five of Scotland's 2009 Six Nations championship matches.

Head coach Ian McGeechan said in a statement on the Lions official website (lionsrugby.com): "Jerry has had a terrific season and he anchored the Irish scrum during Ireland's Six Nations grand slam season. It is disappointing that after selection for the Lions his season should end with a pre-tour injury.

"Injuries are a part of the game and, while very distressing for the affected player, we as a squad have to accept them as a fact of life.

"Ross is a terrific player and he will naturally slot straight in as hooker. I look forward to welcoming him into camp."

Munster scrumhalf Tomas O'Leary was the first of the original party to withdraw after breaking his ankle. His place was taken by Mike Blair of Scotland.

Cardiff centre Tom Shanklin then dropped out after disclocating his shoulder, but was not replaced while Alan Quinlan is suspended until September after making contact with the eye area of Leinster's Leo Cullen in the Heineken Cup semi-final. He was replaced by Tom Croft of England this week.

Wales wing Winger Leigh Halfpenny will miss the first two weeks of the tour after injuring his thigh. The first match is against a Highveld XV on May 30.

(Editing by John Mehaffey)

Article Published: 22/05/2009