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British and Irish Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones relishing Springbok challenge following injury recovery

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Every match from the British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa is exclusively live on Sky Sports; fans who don’t have Sky will be able to catch all the action via streaming service NOW, which offers day/monthly passes

Last Updated: 21/07/21 10:57pm

Alun Wyn Jones will lead the Lions out against South Africa

Alun Wyn Jones will captain the British and Irish Lions just four weeks after dislocating his left shoulder as they take on South Africa in Saturday’s critical series opener in Cape Town.

The Wales skipper had been ruled out of the tour only to learn there was a way back from the injury, enabling him to show remarkable powers of recovery that have seen him dubbed ‘Lazarus’ by team-mates.

“The first few days after dislocating the shoulder and getting home, I was almost on the sofa before the guys had even got to the airport on the Monday. That was a tough one,” Jones said.

“Fast forward to the Tuesday when I was told there was a chance – it was bordering on the surreal. To be here now and taking the knocks and bumps and being in amongst it with the group – it means more, I am not going to lie.

Jones leaves the field against Japan thinking his tour to South Africa was over

Jones leaves the field against Japan thinking his tour to South Africa was over

“I had spent two weeks with the guys getting to know people. We were bedding in with the rugby. I had the seven minutes and for those two days that was my tour done.

“I had the decent news on the Tuesday and sometimes all you need is a chance and I was willing to work hard, and make it difficult for Warren Gatland, to make myself available for selection.

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“I was fortunate enough to get some game time against the Stormers on Saturday and put myself in contention.

“To be sitting here now and to be involved in the Test team is everything I have ever worked for really over the last…I would be lying if I said it was two years, it is probably four years.

“Obviously when you finish a series or a tour you don’t know whether you are going to tour next and a lot of games go under the bridge.

“To be sitting here now is a very, very special thing, but it is only a very short step to what is going to be, hopefully, a very enjoyable week.”

Jones becomes the first player of the professional era to make 10 consecutive Test appearances for the Lions having also been capped on the 2009, 2013 and 2017 tours.

When Gatland was asked what that achievement means, he joked: “That he’s old! He’s been around a while!

“It’s a fantastic achievement for anyone playing your first Test match, but playing 10…. It’s fantastic. I think it shows who he is as a player.”

Will Greenwood believes the return of British and Irish Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones can 'galvanise' the team ahead of Saturday's first Test against South Africa in Cape Town.

Sky Sports 0:45
Will Greenwood believes the return of British and Irish Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones can ‘galvanise’ the team ahead of Saturday’s first Test against South Africa in Cape Town.

Will Greenwood believes the return of British and Irish Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones can ‘galvanise’ the team ahead of Saturday’s first Test against South Africa in Cape Town.

Now that Jones has completed a recovery described by Gatland as a “miracle”, he has one objective in his sights.

“We set out – and this is the message I gave to the squad back at the Lensbury in June – to win a Test series. I think we have a squad here capable of starting that ball rolling,” he said.

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Harness racing selections: Sunday, August 1

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Two meetings to look at on Sunday, with my attention at Marburg and Cranbourne.

The best bets for the respective programs are down below.

Marburg

Best bet: Race Two Number 1 Mustang Dude
The best on the card, and quite comfortably too. His recent runs have come at Redcliffe, placing three back after getting the box seat sit. The last couple have been plain but he hasn’t been helped by barriers. He gets the inside gate this time around and has enough early speed to hold up and prove hard to get past.

Next-best: Race One Number 1 The Last Starfire
He gets a perfect set-up here to bounce back into the winners’ list. He hasn’t won in a tick under 12 months, but the set-up here looks ideal with the lead his for the taking with a positive steer. He led and felt the pinch at Redcliffe last time but he does get such an ideal scenario here. A soft lead on a track where if you lead, there’s a good chance you’ll win.

Value: Race Three Number 6 Okanes Devil
I’m happy to have a small speck each way on this mare. She hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in recent times, but she did run a game fourth here three-back when attempting to lead throughout. She draws inside the second row and follows out a fast beginner, so should she land leaders back, she’ll be dangerous.

Cranbourne

Best bet: Race Four Number 2 Ultimate Me
He went 2/2 at Cranbourne and I’m confident he makes 3/3 with Chris Alford to steer. He spanked them two-back at Melton before going to Maryborough and was game in defeat when second in a fast mile rate. I suspect he finds the front and will take a power of beating from there.

Next-best: Race Seven Number 7 Here Comes Kyvalley
He’ll need luck in the run from outside the front row, but he’s a smart trotter that will take beating on current form. He snagged back last start at Kilmore and worked to the line well when second in a race dominated on speed. If he gets the right run in transit, he’ll take beating.

Value: Race Three Number 1 Mister Macedon
A lightly-raced four-year-old that has done little wrong in his career to date, placing in 11 of 14 career outings. His latest run came last Friday night at Tabcorp Park Melton when wide with cover late and working to the line strongly. He can hold a forward spot from the pole and each-way at double figures appeals.

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David Blough, Lions rooting on Melissa Gonzalez will warm your heart

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David Blough and Detroit Lions teammates cheer on his wife Melissa Gonzalez

This is the type of viral social media content we are here for. Obviously, the whole global pandemic has made things especially difficult for the Olympics to happen in the first place. They were postponed by a year. Even though we have a vaccine for COVID-19, many of the same health restrictions are in place, as the virus mutates and impact the livelihoods of everyone involved.

Though Blough is not excepted to play much in his third season out of Purdue, it is not like he can travel across the world in the latter part of July. He has a football season to prepare for. While he would have loved nothing more than to have been in Tokyo in-person, it is great to see he and his teammates root on Gonzalez, as she tries to fulfill her lifelong dream of winning Olympic gold.

Here is to Gonzalez being one step closer to becoming an Olympic medalist for Colombia this year.

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Blue Jays’ Manoah to start Saturday vs. Royals after activation from IL

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Toronto Blue Jays rookie pitcher Alek Manoah has been activated from the 10-day injured list and will start Saturday’s game against the Kansas City Royals, the team announced.

In a corresponding move, the Blue Jays optioned Trent Thornton to triple-A to make room for Manoah.

Manoah had been placed on the 10-day injured list with a bruised back on July 21 after he slipped and fell down rain-soaked dugout steps at Sahlen Field in Buffalo. He successfully completed a simulated game and is hopeful to start against the Royals in the Blue Jays’ first home game at the Rogers Centre since 2020.

The rookie hurler was also out at the end of June due to a a five-game suspension he received after an ejection against the Baltimore Orioles on June 19.

Manoah, Toronto’s first-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, has thrived in his first season, boasting a 2-1 record with a 2.90 ERA and 52 strikeouts across 40.1 innings.

Live coverage of Blue Jays vs. Royals begins at 3:07 p.m. ET on Sportsnet.

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