Rugby: Lions coach Warren Gatland left scrambling after losing captain Alun Wyn Jones to injury

The British and Irish Lions have beaten Japan 28-10 in their Murrayfield warm-up on Sunday (NZ time) but the match was overshadowed by a shoulder injury that has ruled captain Alun Wyn Jones out of the tour of South Africa.

The veteran Welsh lock was forced off after eight minutes supporting his left arm, seemingly in distress and helped by a doctor.

Kiwi coach Warren Gatland - who's on leave from his role with the Chiefs to guide the Lions - later confirmed it had been a shoulder dislocation. 

"The best case scenario is he might be right for the first test, however we've had a chat and it looks like we're going to have to replace him," Gatland said.

"It's devastating news. It's very disappointing for him. It's one of those things you've got to put behind you and move on as quickly as you can.

"We'll look at getting someone in pretty quickly and on the plane tomorrow."

Ireland halfback Conor Murray has since been appointed captain in Wyn Jones' absence, earning the nod ahead of England and Scotland captains Owen Farrell and Stuart Hogg.

"Conor is an outstanding rugby player and is held in the highest regard with both the players and coaches," says Gatland.

"As a three-time Lions tourist, he knows what will be required as captain and I am certain he will lead the squad with excellence. He will also be well supported by an experienced leadership group."

Warren Gatland.
Warren Gatland. Photo credit: Getty

The better news for Gatland was that the Lions found their attacking groove early, albeit against some soft defending by a Japan team playing their first Test since the World Cup quarter-final defeat by South Africa in 2019.

In front of 16,500 fans at Murrayfield, likely to be the biggest crowd they will play in front of this summer, the Lions were in control for the first hour of the game, their first in Britain since 2005.

They struck first after 13 minutes, when Bundee Aki blasted through and Wales wing Josh Adams took advantage of the space to open his try account.

Scotland's South African-born winger Duhan van der Merwe sneaked round from the back of a ruck for the second try and Ireland centre Robbie Henshaw ran in the third, all converted by Dan Biggar to give them a 21-0 halftime lead.

Ireland's Tadhg Beirne got the fourth try 10 minutes into the second half but the home fans expecting a thrashing were forced to think again.

Japan, who warmed up with a match against a club side, had struggled to get any sort of foothold in their first ever game against the Lions and were unable to generate any of the quick possession their livewire backs thrive on.

But as the second half went on they began to link better and make ground, and were rewarded when Kazuki Himeno was bundled over from a line-out after an hour.

The Lions were forced to play the last 10 minutes with 14 men, after Jack Conan went off injured with all the replacements already on the pitch, and they spent most of it defending their line.

"I'm pleased with that result," said man of the match Biggar. "The second half was a bit of a slog as we made some errors. We played some good rugby in the first half and we can use it as a stepping stone.

"We were just trying to do the basics early doors. We just managed it, everything seemed to click. It was great to play in front of this crowd and I want to thank them. It's been awesome."

The Lions play the first match of their eight-game, three-Test South Africa tour in Johannesburg on July 4.