Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Jones welcomes 'special experience'

Alun Wyn Jones missed three months of the season with a shoulder injury

Alun Wyn Jones is relishing a second chance to experience the special atmosphere of a British and Irish Lions tour after being selected in the 37-man party to tour Australia.

The Ospreys and Wales lock toured South Africa with the Lions in 2009, playing a part in all three Tests as the visitors went down to a 2-1 series defeat. The 27-year-old missed three months of the season with a shoulder injury, but turned in outstanding performances when he returned during the Six Nations and was seen as a potential candidate for the captaincy, which eventually went to Sam Warburton.

Jones, who has won 70 caps for his country, is vastly experienced but acknowledges his time with the Lions four years ago was a real eye-opener. He said: "The thing that shocked me last time is that things are quite quiet initially, but once you get closer to the games there seems to be fans everywhere."

Jones added: "You see things like Englishmen singing 'Delilah' and that makes you realise it is a bit different. You are representing four nations, not one. There is a lot of pressure but you have to make sure it does not get to you. It is a very special experience."

And Jones' injury-enforced absence has left him feeling refreshed and ready to take on the Wallabies.

He said: "There has been a lot of talk about players in the squad having not played a lot of rugby. I was the same when I went to Australia with Wales last year and that probably did me a bit of good.

"I missed three months this season and other players have had injuries this season. Is it a bad thing? Not really, they will be rested and ready for what is round the corner."

The 2009 Lions captain Paul O'Connell is one player with little game time behind him after returning from a back injury. And the 33-year-old Munster lock thanked the province's medical team for ensuring he got the chance to feature on a third tour.

"I'm probably very lucky to be going," O'Connell told munsterrugby.ie. "Big thanks to the medical staff at Munster for getting me back and big thanks to the boys for still being in the Heineken Cup quarter-final for when I came back.

"It's great to be involved in those kind of games and that has probably given me my chance to go. It feels good. When my name was called out it was great."

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