Halfpenny misses Lions start
Welsh winger to delay flight due to a thigh problem
Last Updated: 20/05/09 5:52pm
Halfpenny: Injury blow
Wales winger Leigh Halfpenny will miss the start of the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa due to injury.
A thigh injury has proved to be more significant than first thought and the Lions medical team have decided Halfpenny should remain at home to undergo intensive treatment.
It means the Cardiff Blues man will not fly out to South Africa with the rest of the Lions squad on Sunday, and is expected to be sidelined for up to a fortnight.
Halfpenny will remain part of the squad and will join-up with the Lions in South Africa once he has regained full fitness, but is likely to miss the first two games of the tour.
Head coach Ian McGeechan will name a replacement for Halfpenny, taking the squad back up to 37 players.
"It is the belief of the Lions management team that it would be better for the player to receive intensive treatment in Cardiff," said a Lions statement.
"The management have always had the expectation that travelling players should be fit to play the first game on tour.
"A replacement player will be announced in due course. However, once Leigh Halfpenny is fully fit he will rejoin the Lions in South Africa."
The Lions now need a replacement not only to cover Halfpenny's possible positions on the wing and at full-back, but also his goalkicking - with fly-halves Ronan O'Gara and Stephen Jones the only recognised kickers in the squad.
England full-back Delon Armitage is an option along with the retiring Josh Lewsey, although he, unlike Armitage, is not a kicker
The Lions have already called in Scotland captain Mike Blair as a replacement for injured Munster scrum-half Tomas O'Leary, and McGeechan could be forced to make a further change to his original squad if Alan Quinlan fails in his appeal against a 12-week suspension.