Lions coach Warren Gatland will be sweating on more injury concerns after Dan Biggar and Sam Simmonds both departed early in Sunday’s clash between Northampton Saints and Exeter Chiefs.
Wales fly-half Biggar had been in fine form for the Saints, playing out of his skin as Chris Boyd’s side raced away to an 18-0 half-time lead.
The 31-year-old set up two tries for Saints centre Rory Hutchinson, as well as dropping a goal and adding an extra penalty. That virtuoso performance wasn’t enough for victory, with Exeter coming back with a second-half comeback to win 29-26.
However the bigger concern was the fitness of Biggar.
He limped off after on the hour mark, picking up an chest injury in the build-up to Mike Haywood’s try. His club confirmed afterwards it was a pectoral injury but added it was not serious.
As for Simmonds, the Exeter No. 8 was replaced on 64 minutes with an ankle injury.
TV footage showed Simmonds, who Gatland picked in his Lions squad despite England coach Eddie Jones overlooking him for three years, returning to the sideline with his ankle taped up.
Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter said afterwards: “Right now I don’t want to make a call on how bad it is, I would just be saying stuff I should not be saying.
“We don’t know the extent of the injury at all. He rolled his ankle a couple of weeks ago and we have strapped it ever since. We are hoping it is nothing too serious but it is early days.”
Both injury worries, even if Biggar’s appears to not be serious, will come as a concern to Gatland, who has already been forced to replace one of his original 37-man squad on Sunday.
The former Wales coach has called upon Bristol Bears and England prop Kyle Sinckler to replace Andrew Porter after the Irish international was ruled out through injury.