Farrell and Sexton sidelined but only short-term, say Lions camp

BRITISH and Irish Lions head coach Andy Farrell has played down fitness fears surrounding the squad’s fly-halves, which threaten to undermine preparations for the first Test against Australia in less than two weeks.

Ireland’s Jonny Sexton has a tight hamstring and will miss today’s tour match against a Combined Country XV, while England’s Owen Farrell is also sidelined with a dead leg.

It means 20-year-old Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg will be deployed in an unfamiliar No10 role, but Andy Farrell insists the absent duo’s injuries are not serious.

“Like every game of rugby, guys have got little knocks and tweaks, but there is nothing serious,” he said. “Owen has just got a bit of a dead leg, that’s all, so that is precautionary. Jonny was just a little bit tight, but he’s fine as well.

“They’ve got to recover properly, especially with the flights, so they had training off on Monday, but they are fine.”

Meanwhile, Australia coach Robbie Deans has added six names to his squad for the three-Test series, including explosive uncapped prop Scott Sio, and selected lock James Horwill as captain.

“Scott has had a remarkable year,” said Deans. “His work rate and the raw power he brings to his set piece indicated to us that he was ready.”