British & Irish Lions

Alun Wyn Jones on his miraculous recovery to skipper Lions in SA: 'It means more'

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Alun Wyn Jones. (David Rogers/Getty Images)
Alun Wyn Jones. (David Rogers/Getty Images)

Miracle man Alun Wyn Jones recalled the wave of emotion that he's ridden on the way to skippering the British and Irish Lions in the first Test against the Springboks in Cape Town on Saturday.

The Welsh lock was, for all money, ruled out of the three-match tour starting this weekend after dislocating his shoulder in a friendly against Japan in Edinburgh last month.

Less than a month after he staggered off injured in the Lions' first warm-up game for this momentous tour, the 35-year-old Lions captain was seated next to head coach Warren Gatland at the team announcement press conference on Wednesday talking about what it meant to him to be there.

READ | Alun Wyn Jones leads Lions in opening Bok Test, Duhan van der Merwe on the wing

"The first few days after that [injury] ... I think I was at home on the sofa before the guys even got to the airport on the Sunday," said Wyn Jones.

"That was a tough one. Fast-forward to the Tuesday when I was told I had a chance - it was bordering on surreal.

"So, to be here, taking the knocks and bumps, and be in amongst the group, it means more.

"For those two days, that was my tour done. But I had decent news on the Tuesday, and sometimes all you need is a chance, and I was willing to work hard and make myself available for selection."

In his fourth series in a career that's glittered with such longevity milestones, Wyn Jones will play his 10th Lions series Test in a row.

He defied father time and the odds to fly into South Africa last week and featured in the 49-3 demolition of the Stormers in Cape Town.

His 20 minutes from the bench were enough for Gatland to hand Wyn Jones back the armband from Conor Murray and start him in the second row for the first Test.

"I was fortunate to get some game time last Saturday and put myself in contention," Wyn Jones said.

"To be sitting here now preparing for the Test series, it's everything I've worked for over the last four years.

"When you finish a Lions tour, you don't know whether you're going to go on the next one, and a lot of games go under the bridge, as it were.

"It's a very special thing to be sitting here and taking a very short step towards what's hopefully going to be an enjoyable week."

Kick-off on Saturday is at 18:00.

Teams:

South Africa

15 Willie Le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Kwagga Smith, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche

Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Rynhardt Elstadt, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse

British and Irish Lions

15 Stuart Hogg (Scotland), 14 Anthony Watson (England), 13 Elliot Daly (England), 12 Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), 11 Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland), 10 Dan Biggar (Wales), 9 Ali Price (Scotland), 8 Jack Conan (Ireland), 7 Tom Curry (England), 6 Courtney Lawes (England), 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain, Wales), 4 Maro Itoje (England), 3 Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie (England), 1 Wyn Jones (Wales)

Substitutes: 16 Ken Owens (Wales), 17 Rory Sutherland (Scotland), 18 Kyle Sinckler (England), 19 Tadhg Beirne (Ireland), 20 Hamish Watson (Scotland), 21 Conor Murray (Ireland), 22 Owen Farrell (England), 23 Liam Williams (Wales)

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