MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The British and Irish Lions have suffered a major blow ahead of the second test against Australia, with lock Paul O‘Connell ruled out of the rest of the series against Australia due to a fracture in his right forearm.
The 33-year-old Irishman, who captained the Lions on their last tour to South Africa in 2009, sustained the injury in the tourists’ 23-21 victory in the first test in Brisbane on Saturday.
“Paul O‘Connell ruled out of test series with undisplaced fracture of lower right arm,” read a tweet on the Lions feed (@lionsofficial) on Monday.
The injury will be a particular blow to the Munster man, who came through a long period on the sidelines with a back injury before returning to action in April to secure his place on a third Lions tour.
Geoff Parling is set to replace O‘Connell for the second test, with Lions coach Warren Gatland signalling his intention by withdrawing the England lock from Tuesday’s tour match against the Melbourne Rebels.
Parling, who came off the bench in the first test, was to have led a ‘dirt-trackers’ side against the Super Rugby team at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, but will be replaced in the starting line-up by Ian Evans for the last non-test tour match.
Towering Scotland lock Richie Gray will line up alongside the Welshman for the match at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.
Wales flanker Dan Lydiate replaces Parling as captain, while England specialist blindside Tom Croft comes into the side to take a spot on the bench after starting against the Wallabies.
O‘Connell’s injury capped a quick turnaround in the fortunes for both sides, with Australia captain and lock James Horwill cleared to play in the second test late on Sunday after a disciplinary hearing dismissed a charge of trampling on Lions lock Wyn Jones.
Wyn Jones required stitches in his eye and Gatland referred to the incident after the match.
The Lions also have an injury query over prop Alex Corbisiero and called up Ireland’s Tom Court as cover for the Englishman, who sustained a calf injury in the first test.
Editing by Patrick Johnston and Nick Mulvenney