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Page last updated at 09:57 GMT, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 10:57 UK

Halfpenny ruled out of Lions tour

SHARKS v LIONS
Venue: The ABSA Stadium, Durban Date: 10 June 2009 (kick-off 1810 BST) Coverage: Live coverage on Sky Sports 2 and BBC Sport website, second-half commentary on 5 Live and online. Find complete listings here


Leigh Halfpenny
Leigh Halfpenny was forced to miss the start of the Lions tour through injury

Wales wing Leigh Halfpenny has been forced to withdraw from the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa.

Lions manager Gerald Davies confirmed the 20-year-old has joined flanker Stephen Ferris on the injury list and will fly home from South Africa.

Halfpenny joined the tour late because of an injury to his right thigh and the Cardiff Blues player has suffered a recurrence of the injury in training.

The Lions are not planning to call up a replacement for Halfpenny.

He was the youngest Welshman to win a Lions call-up since Keith Jarrett in 1968 and when Lions head coach Ian McGeechan picked Halfpenny for their tour to world champions South Africa, it completed a dramatic rise for the Swansea-born youngster.

Halfpenny was playing semi-professional rugby for Cardiff's Welsh Premiership side at the start of the season before being promoted to the Cardiff Blues regional side and winning a Wales call.

He hailed his first professional season as a "fairytale" after scoring four tries in six Wales appearances as well as inspiring the Blues to the Heineken Cup semi-final and scoring in the EDF Energy Cup final victory over Gloucester at Twickenham.

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Halfpenny played in the Lions' 26-24 win over the Free State Cheetahs on Saturday but his season has ended on a low point following a scan on the thigh injury, which he aggravated in training.

Davies said: "We are obviously very disappointed that Leigh has sustained a further injury.

"And we understand that this must be particularly frustrating that this has happened a second time, especially for a young man embarking on his rugby career, but we wish him well for his rehabilitation."

Halfpenny - who only arrived in South Africa a week ago - had been named on the bench for Wednesday's game against the Sharks in Durban but the recurrence of his injury meant he was forced to withdraw from the match before pulling out of the tour altogether.

James Hook, who started at fly-half in Saturday's 26-24 win over the Cheetahs, replaces Halfpenny on the bench against the Sharks.

Ireland flanker Ferris has been ruled out of the tour with a knee injury and replaced by Ryan Jones, while fellow back-row Martyn Williams is the other member of the squad currently unavailable for selection.

However, Lions doctor James Robson expects the Wales open-side to recover from a shoulder problem in time for the weekend game against Western Province.


Sharks: Stefan Terblanche; Chris Jordaan, Andries Strauss, Riaan Swanepoel, Luzuko Vulindlu; Monty Dumond, Rory Kockott; Deon Carstens, Skipper Badenhorst, Jannie du Plessis, Steven Sykes, Johann Muller (capt), Jacques Botes, Jean Deysel, Keegan Daniel.

Replacements: Craig Burden, Patric Cilliers, Albert van den Berg, Michael Rhodes, Charl McLeod, Guy Cronje, Lwazi Mvovo.

British and Irish Lions: Lee Byrne (Ospreys/Wales); Shane Williams (Ospreys/Wales), Brian O'Driscoll (Leinster/Ireland), Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues/Wales), Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster/Ireland); Ronan O'Gara (Munster/Ireland), Mike Phillips (Ospreys/Wales); Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues/Wales), Lee Mears (Bath/England), Adam Jones (Ospreys/Wales), Alun-Wyn Jones (Ospreys/Wales), Paul O'Connell (Munster/Ireland, capt), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers/England), David Wallace (Munster/Ireland), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster/Ireland).

Replacements: Matthew Rees (Scarlets/Wales), Phil Vickery (London Wasps/England), Simon Shaw (London Wasps/England), Joe Worsley (London Wasps/England), Mike Blair (Edinburgh/Scotland), Riki Flutey (London Wasps/England), James Hook (Ospreys/Wales).



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