Warren Gatland’s delight at having the Saracen Lions an extra few days to bond with the squad will have been seriously tempered last night when Billy Vunipola had to withdraw from the tour.
It is a serious blow for the Lions – Billy has been at the top of his game and would have been competing with his cousin, Toby Faletau for the number 8 test shirt.
For the coaches it will mean protecting Toby Faletau for the tests – and some of the games will have players who don’t normally play at 8 for their clubs, much less internationals.
Looking at the squad, CJ Stander and Ross Moriarty are the likely main understudies for the 8 shirt.
It is less than ideal start for a tour that kicks off on Saturday week on the other side of the globe.