Lions Center Roberts Is ‘Grave Doubt’ for Rugby Series Opener

British and Irish Lions center Jamie Roberts is likely to miss this week’s opening rugby Test against Australia, the combined team’s head doctor said.

Roberts, who was named the Lions’ player of the series against South Africa four years ago, strained his hamstring in the 47-17 win against the New South Wales Waratahs two days ago. The Lions start their best-of-three series against the Wallabies on June 22 in Brisbane.

“Jamie is a grave doubt for this week, there is no doubt about that,” James Robson told reporters in Sydney today. “You only had to see how much discomfort he was in at the weekend. However, further assessment will be made later in the week as to his availability going forward.”

Robson said he’ll give head coach Warren Gatland a full report on player availability in two days, after the Lions face the ACT Brumbies tomorrow in their sixth tour game. Ireland winger Tommy Bowe, who fractured a bone in his hand on June 8, is likely to join Roberts in being ruled out, Robson said.

Wales winger George North has “a great chance of being fit” for the first Test as he recovers from hamstring tightness and England center Manu Tuilagi is “progressing on a daily basis” from a shoulder injury and will be further assessed this week, Robson added.

The Lions, who have won all five matches on tour so far, face the Australian Conference-leading Brumbies in Canberra tomorrow. Gatland is scheduled to announce his team to face the Wallabies on June 20.

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