Warren Gatland declares Owen Farrell fit for first Test
Last Updated: 19/06/17 5:14pm
British and Irish Lions backline star Owen Farrell has shaken off a thigh strain and will be available for the first Test against the All Blacks this weekend, coach Warren Gatland has said.
Farrell suffered a quadricep strain at training on Thursday and sat out the Lions' win over the Maori All Blacks on Saturday.
But Gatland said his absence was precautionary and the Englishman could have played if necessary.
"Owen could have played on Saturday. Had it been a Test match he would have played," he said.
"We just made a decision that it wasn't worth taking that risk.
"It's a quad strain that was very high and not on his kicking leg. It's on his left leg. I've no doubt he will be 100 per cent fit."
Farrell is regarded as a near-certain selection against the All Blacks at Eden Park, either at fly-half or inside centre.
Elsewhere, defence coach Andy Farrell believes Sam Warburton is "battle-hardened" and improving day by day as the Lions captain inches towards the Test match squad.
Wales flanker Warburton suffered an ankle injury in the tour-opening 13-7 win over the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians and has been scrapping for match sharpness ever since.
The Lions management have left Warburton out of Tuesday's squad to face the Chiefs in Hamilton however, as he edges ever closer to a spot in Saturday's line-up for the first All Blacks Test.
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Peter O'Mahony, Sean O'Brien and Taulupe Faletau have excelled as a back-row combination, but Cardiff star Warburton could yet squeeze into the first Test starting XV.
"Sam by his own account will tell you that he might have been a little rusty at the start, but he's getting better and better every day," said Farrell.
"His body's in good condition, and he's battle-hardened like the rest of them."
Leigh Halfpenny is continuing through return-to-play protocols after a suspected head injury but Lions assistant coach Farrell believes the Wales full-back remains on course to face New Zealand on Saturday.
Farrell also reiterated Gatland's comments regarding the fitness of his son Owen.
"We don't see too much of a problem with that for Leigh [Halfpenny], it's just the process we have to go through," Farrell added.
"And Owen seems to be all good, that seems to have settled down.
"The boys who aren't playing the Chiefs will have a light hit-out today (Monday), an orientation day for the rest of the week, and Owen seems fine enough to take part in that."