Croft to cover for Quinlan

England forward Tom Croft will replace Alan Quinlan for the Lions’ tour if Quinlan fails to overturn his 12-week ban.

Croft was a shock omission when coach Ian McGeechan named his side four weeks ago, but it seems highly likely that the England utility forward will travel to South Africa after all.

Quinlan was found guilty last week of eye gouging in Munster’s European Cup semi-final with Leinster. He is set to contest the ban that at present rules him out of the Lions’ tour and it is likely the hearing will be heard by next Wednesday.

Wales captain Ryan Jones was also mentioned as a possible replacement, but reports from the UK indicate Croft is the favourite.

Lions coach Ian McGeechan confirmed crocked centre Tom Shanklin won’t be replaced as this would allow combinations more time to flourish.

‘When we selected the extra player back in April we were really trying to cover all our bases regarding the European Cup final, where we could have been without 16 players,’ said McGeechan.

‘As it’s transpired, for the first two tour games we can cover the squad and really we want to give the opportunity and the responsibility to the players who are there to try to fill that role.

‘Going back to 36 just gives us the chance to give players and combinations a bit more game time which is so important with so little time before the first Test.’

The Lions’ squad assembled on Monday and will fly out to South Africa this weekend. They play their first tour match against the Royal XV in Rustenburg on 30 May.