Scott Baldwin now faces Saracens Wolfpack after lion bite that threatened career

Big game hunter: Ospreys and Wales hooker Scott Baldwin feared he could lose his hand after being bitten by a lion while on tour in South Africa: Getty Images

Scott Baldwin became an internet sensation after a lion bit his hand last month and he faces another potentially damaging encounter on Saturday, when Ospreys attempt to halt Saracens’ 19-game unbeaten run in the European Champions Cup.

Wales hooker Baldwin feared losing his left hand to an infection following the incident during a visit to a lion park in South Africa as the team prepared to face the Cheetahs in a Pro 14 match. Baldwin was bitten after putting his arm through bars to pat the lion.

The wound needed stitches and Baldwin, who must pass a fitness test on Friday to play at Allianz Park in what would be his first appearance since the injury, underwent two operations before being allowed to fly back to Wales.

Sarries have used various animals in the past as inspiration for their ‘Wolfpack’ defence sessions when Paul Gustard was in charge — he brought in a wolf followed by a large python.

Saracens full-back Alex Goode has seen the video of Baldwin being bitten and said: “We didn’t have incidents with the wolf, while the python ate a mouse quicker than anything I had ever seen and it put the fear of God into us. But it wasn’t like putting your hand near a vicious animal’s mouth like Scott.”

Goode believes that Sarries, having successfully defended the European title last season, are equipped to handle the pressure of being the team to beat again.

He said: “We carry an even bigger target because of our two cup wins and are there to be shot at.

“We have had some tough experiences in Europe and that helps you focus and we showed a phenomenal hunger against Northampton. We have gone from being underdogs in Europe at the start to double Champions.

“The Champions Cup is the hardest club tournament in the world and the pools are really tough.”