Rugby player bitten by lion pays tribute to surgeon who saved his hand

Scott Baldwin bitten by lion in 2017

By NICK FRIEND, FOR CNN
David Rogers/Getty Images

Welsh rugby player Scott Baldwin

(CNN) - Bitten by a lion, but biting back against the Cheetahs; Welsh rugby player Scott Baldwin has paid tribute to the surgeon who saved his hand.

As he returned to South Africa on Saturday as part of the Ospreys team that beat the appropriately named Bloemfontein-based outfit, Baldwin took the opportunity to thank Faf Weyers, who led the operation following his perilous run-in.

During a 2017 trip to the city to take on the same opposition, Baldwin's team had visited the Weltevrede Game Lodge on Bloemfontein's outskirts, only for the lion to gnaw at the hooker after he ignored advice by getting too close to the predator as he tried to stroke its head.

Since then, however, Baldwin has made a full recovery. He started Saturday's 31-14 Pro14 victory over the same opposition, before seeking out Weyers to present him and his family with his match jersey.

Following the reunion, Baldwin tweeted a photo, saying: "Faf literally saved my hand. Thank you my man! it was a pleasure to give you my March jersey after the game tonight."

After the initial incident, the effects of which worsened when the wound became infected, then-coach Steve Tandy appeared less than impressed.

"When you put your hand in a fence where there is a lion, you will get bitten," he had said.

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"It was pretty stupid on Scott's behalf and he is pretty lucky. I don't know what sort of wildlife show Scott has been watching where you can pat a lion on the head as if it's a kitten.

"It's probably one of the silliest things I've even been involved in."

Baldwin seems to have taken the scare in his stride, mocking himself on social media. His Twitter profile states: "Yes, I'm that guy bitten by a [lion]."

Baldwin, who won the most recent of his 34 international caps in June 2017, is set to leave Ospreys at the end of the current season, bringing to an end a 10-year association with the Welsh club. He is set to join English Premiership side Harlequins.

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