England prop Kyle Sinckler has been called into the British and Irish Lions squad for this summer’s tour of South Africa in place of the injured Andrew Porter.
Ireland tighthead Porter has been ruled out of the series due to a toe problem sustained in Leinster’s PRO14 Rainbow Cup defeat to Glasgow on Friday.
Sinckler, a Lions tourist in New Zealand in 2017, will join up with Warren Gatland’s squad following the conclusion of Bristol’s domestic season, with his club having already qualified for the Gallagher Premiership play-offs.
Lions coach Gatland said in a statement: “It’s really bad luck for Andrew and we send him our very best wishes for a quick and successful rehab.
“Andrew is a young man with a big future ahead of him and I’m sure he’ll be in contention again in four years’ time.
“As always in rugby, when there’s an injury there’s an opportunity for someone else. I have been very pleased to see the way Kyle has responded to initially being left out of the touring party.
“He’s showed some excellent form of late and I hope he continues to stick two fingers up to me about leaving him out in the first place.”
The Lions are scheduled to assemble in Jersey on Sunday, June 13 to begin preparations for a match against Japan on June 26 at Murrayfield in Edinburgh.
Gatland’s men will then fly to South Africa where, following a series of warm-up matches, they are due to play Tests against the Springboks on July 24 in Cape Town and July 31 and August 7 in Johannesburg.
Sinckler came on as a replacement in each of the Lions’ three Tests during the drawn series against the All Blacks four years ago.
The 28-year-old’s initial omission came following England’s underwhelming display in this year’s Guinness Six Nations when Eddie Jones’ deposed champions finished second bottom.
Porter, who has 37 caps for Ireland, was preparing for his first Lions involvement.
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen joined Gatland in backing the 25-year-old to make amends for current frustration in the future.
“We are all bitterly disappointed for Ports. He has worked incredibly hard to get this opportunity and it was richly deserved,” Cullen told Leinster’s website.
“He is fortunate that he has youth on his side and will hopefully have another shot at a Lions tour again but that doesn’t take away from his disappointment now.
“Like everyone we wish him well with his recovery and look forward to seeing him back for Leinster next season.”
Following the original squad announcement on May 6, Sinckler posted on social media that he was “gutted” about being overlooked by Gatland.
He responded by producing a man of the match performance in Bristol’s 40-20 win at Bath two days later and came close to tears as he spoke about the Lions setback during an impassioned post-match interview.
“I am not going to lie, I’m quite emotional right now. It’s been tough, it means so much to me,” said Sinckler.
“I’m just lucky that I had my mentor at Saviour World (a life-coaching programme for men) and we broke it down and I understand kind of the reasons why and in a year or two’s time, I will look back on it and it will all make sense. But at the moment, it doesn’t kind of make sense.
“It’s been so tough, I have never experienced something like this in my whole life, let alone my career.
“I just wanted to show the kids and everyone at home how much it means to me and lead by example and not throw your toys out of the pram, do the tough stuff, get on with it, use that anger.
“I’ve got so much anger inside me right now but use it in a positive way and do what’s best for the team and do all of the unselfish stuff and I think I did that today.”
Meanwhile, the Rugby Football Union is set to investigate the contentious ending to Bristol’s 26-23 Premiership victory at Leicester, the PA news agency understands.
Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick accused Bears director of rugby Pat Lam of lying during a heated touchline disagreement in the dying stages of Saturday’s match at Welford Road.
The argument centred on whether John Afoa, who had been earlier been substituted, was fit to return to the field after fellow Bristol prop Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro picked up a late yellow card for repeated team infringements at the scrum.
Afoa’s half-time withdrawal had been recorded as tactical but Lam claimed the player was injured and therefore unable to go back on.
However, with Chaparro joining Bristol front-rower Jake Kerr in the bin, referee Ian Tempest informed Lam that not bringing on Afoa would lead to uncontested scrums and require the Bears to withdraw an additional player.
New Zealander Lam then appeared to change his stance and former All Black Afoa was permitted to resume, helping the league leaders hold on for a slender success.
Borthwick, who was coy about the matter post match, was recorded on pitchside microphones saying: “Pat you just said he was injured. Don’t lie Pat, don’t lie. Just don’t lie.”
PA understands the RFU will seek information from those involved before deciding whether the incident warrants any charges.