By Nick Said
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - British and Irish Lions assistant coach Neil Jenkins says it would be a "no brainer" for former captain Alun Wyn Jones to return to the squad for the tour of South Africa if he can prove his fitness.
Jones had been ruled out of the eight-game tour, which includes three test matches against the world champion Springboks from July 24, after he dislocated his shoulder in the 28-10 warm-up victory over Japan in Edinburgh on Saturday.
But head coach Warren Gatland has suggested that assessment may have been too hasty and the injury might not be as serious as first thought, potentially opening the door for Jones to link up with the squad ahead of the Bok tests.
"He is a world class player and a class act in everything he does," Jenkins told reporters on Friday. "If he could get back in any way, shape or form that would be awesome. If someone of that calibre becomes available and is able to represent us then it's a no-brainer."
Jenkins would not be drawn on a medical assessment of Jones’ current position, but believes the lock will fight as hard as he can to make himself available.
"I have known Alun for a long time and I have certainly never written him off. I’ve seen him injured on other occasions, not too many because he has been lucky in that regard and looks after himself incredibly well," he said.
"Nothing surprises me with him, he is an incredible player on and off the pitch. If anybody can get back to play in a test series at this level, he can certainly do it, there is no doubt about that.
"If he can get himself right that would be a huge plus for us."
The tourists play their first match on tour against the Johannesburg-based Lions franchise at Ellis Park on Saturday.
(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge)