x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Halfpenny flies home

The rookie Wales winger sees his dream of capping a fairytale season with an appearance in the British & Irish Lions Test side cruelly dashed.

Leigh Halfpenny, the rookie Wales winger, has seen his dream of capping a fairytale season with an appearance in the British & Irish Lions Test side cruelly dashed after he was ruled out of the tour of South Africa tour through injury. Halfpenny, who was playing semi-professional rugby for Cardiff's Welsh Premiership side at the start of the season, was a late arrival on tour after he remained at home for intensive treatment on a thigh injury.

The 20-year-old, the youngest member of the squad, joined up with the rest of the players last week but sustained a thigh muscle injury in training. Halfpenny will travel with the squad to Cape Town today before flying home for up to four weeks of rehabilitation. It is the Lions' second major injury blow in less than 24 hours after Stephen Ferris, the Ireland flanker, suffered a tour-ending knee injury.

England's Delon Armitage's hopes of a call up as a replacement have been quashed after the head coach Ian McGeechan decided not to summon any further cover. "Leigh unfortunately hurt his right thigh muscle during Monday afternoon's training," said McGeechan. "Following a medical assessment, it was decided that he should undergo a scan to determine the extent of the injury. He had the scan on Tuesday morning that confirmed a presence of a further muscle injury to his right thigh which will require three to four weeks of rehabilitation which means he will miss the rest of the tour."

Ryan Jones, the Wales captain, flew into Cape Town last night after being called up as a replacement for the second successive Lions tour. The back-row forward joins the squad after Ferris saw his Lions dream shattered by a knee injury. * With agencies