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Lions’ Paul O’Connell, Australia Pair Ruled Out of Rugby Series

Rugby Player James Horwill
Australian rugby captain James Horwill, center yellow, tackles British and Irish Lions player Leigh Halfpenny during their match in Brisbane on June 22, 2013. Photographer: Patrick Hamilton/AFP via Getty Images

British and Irish Lions lock Paul O’Connell was ruled out of the remaining two matches of the Test rugby series against Australia with a broken arm. Wallabies backs Digby Ioane and Pat McCabe are also out as the teams assess the fallout from the opening game.

O’Connell, who’s played 85 times for Ireland and captained the Lions on their 2009 tour of South Africa, sustained an undisplaced fracture of his lower right arm during the Lions’ 23-21 win in Brisbane on June 22, the combined team said.

He’ll miss the second match in Melbourne on June 29 and the final Test in Sydney a week later as the Lions seek to secure their first series victory since 1997. Alun Wyn Jones, Geoff Parling, Richie Gray and Ian Evans are the remaining locks in the Lions squad. There are no plans at this stage to call up a replacement for O’Connell, according to the team’s website.

England’s Parling, who came on as a second-half replacement for Wyn Jones in Brisbane, had been selected to captain the Lions today in their final midweek match against the Melbourne Rebels. He was withdrawn from that team and Evans was moved up from the bench to partner Gray in the second row.

Australia winger Ioane sustained a shoulder injury and center McCabe picked up a neck problem in the Brisbane match and are also out of the series, the Australian Rugby Union said. Fullback Berrick Barnes will miss the Melbourne game after being concussed.

Christian Leali’ifano, who also had concussion, is expected to be fit for that game, as is fellow center Adam Ashley-Cooper, who had scans on his shoulder.

Horwill Cleared

Australia captain James Horwill, meantime, is free to play in Melbourne after being found not guilty of stamping on Wyn Jones in the third minute of the series opener.

Horwill, 28, faced a disciplinary hearing two days ago after the Lions referred the incident to the citing commissioner. Horwill, who was making his first appearance for the Wallabies since December 2011 after 10 months out with a hamstring injury, had been cited under Law 10.4 b, which states that “a player must not stamp or trample on an opponent.”

Judicial Officer Nigel Hampton found that “on the balance of probabilities he could not find an intentional or deliberate action of stamping or trampling,” the Australian Rugby Union said in a statement.

“I could not find that when James Horwill’s right foot came into glancing contact with Alun Wyn Jones’s face, that he was acting recklessly,” Hampton said. “I found that I could not reject as being implausible or improbable Horwill’s explanation that, as he was driving forward with his right leg raised, he was spun off balance through the impact of Lions players entering the ruck from the opposite side.”

Wallabies Reinforcements

The Wallabies called up three players including flanker George Smith to bolster their squad after the five backs were injured in Brisbane.

The 32-year-old Smith, who featured in Australia’s 2-1 series win against the Lions 12 years ago and played his most recent Test for the Wallabies in 2009, was joined by his ACT Brumbies teammate Jesse Mogg and Queensland Reds center Ben Tapuai in being added to the squad.

Smith’s availability for the match in Melbourne will be determined later this week, the Wallabies added.

The Lions called up Ireland prop Tom Court, who was visiting his hometown of Brisbane, following a calf injury to Alex Corbisiero that will continue to be treated and assessed. Court goes straight on to the replacements’ bench for the game against the Rebels in place of Mako Vunipola.

England center Manu Tuilagi, who’s been out since injuring a shoulder in the 22-12 win over the Queensland Reds on June 8, will return to face the Rebels. Wales flanker Dan Lydiate will lead the team in place of Parling, the Lions said.

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