The vastly experienced and influential Welsh skipper appeared to suffer an injury to his left wrist with just eight minutes on the clock at Murrayfield after attempting to poach possession following a tackle and then being put in a very awkward position at the ensuing ruck, though it was later said on Channel 4’s live TV coverage that he had sustained a suspected dislocated shoulder.
Jones received treatment from medics and looked despondent as he was escorted off the pitch, replaced by England’s Courtney Lawes.
Head coach Warren Gatland will now anxiously await a further update on the 35-year-old, who is set to be the Lions’ official tour captain for the first time after previously skippering the side in the absence of Sam Warburton for the crucial third Test win over Australia in Sydney in 2013.
Warburton also led the Lions in New Zealand in 2017 under Gatland.
Jones – Wales’ most-capped player ever and the record holder for the most Test appearances in rugby union history – is a veteran of three previous Lions tours in 2009, 2013 and 2017, making nine Test appearances in total.
England lock Maro Itoje was the other outstanding captaincy candidate this summer and could presumably step up to the role if Jones is forced to miss time.
To make matters worse for the Lions, Jones’ Wales team-mate Justin Tipuric – drafted into Gatland’s starting XV as a replacement for Scotland flanker Hamish Watson, who suffered a concussion in training this week – also went off with a suspected shoulder injury in the first half against Japan, with Taulupe Faletau taking his place.
After playing only their third ever match on home soil on Saturday, the Lions are due to face their namesake Lions in Johannesburg next Saturday, with a Covid-impacted, truncated South Africa schedule also including four other tour matches against the Sharks, Bulls, Stormers and a South Africa ‘A’ side.
They then face the reigning world champion Springboks in a three-Test series taking place in Cape Town and Johannesburg.