Belfast Telegraph

Lions on prowl again now that Jones is roaring back: Rowntree

By Nick Purewal

Graham Rowntree has hailed lock Alun Wyn Jones for reasserting his credentials as an auxiliary back-row forward for the British and Irish Lions.

Wales lock Jones failed to reach his usual lofty standards in the Lions' 30-15 opening Test loss to New Zealand in Auckland, but was backed to recover by head coach Warren Gatland.

The 31-year-old second row hit back with a fine showing as the Lions edged out the All Blacks 24-21 in Wellington on Saturday to set up a series decider.

And assistant coach Rowntree believes the Ospreys stalwart can now repeat that kind of talismanic showing in Saturday's final Test at Eden Park.

Maro Itoje grabbed the headlines for the Lions fans' incessant chanting of his name that drowned out the home support - but Rowntree insisted Jones' role must not be overlooked.

"I was pleased with the output from both our second rows," said Rowntree. "Alun Wyn hasn't got as catchy a song as Maro Itoje. I think he needs to develop a song.

"But I am pleased for Alun Wyn. He is in the engine room, he's the tight-head lock. He gives you a lot in the loose, almost as much as a back rower, and then there's his lineout work too.

"I was pleased with his performance and it was appropriate that we brought Courtney Lawes on at the right time. Alun Wyn had put in a big shift."

The tourists know full well the All Blacks will hit back with unbridled fury in the series decider in Auckland - but Rowntree vowed the Lions will be ready.

Asked what to expect on Saturday, Rowntree said: "A reaction; a massive reaction. They don't normally make so many mistakes and they'll be hurting from that.

"So we're expecting a reaction at Eden Park. They don't lose there very often. That will be driving them on. But we're driven on by our game and our standards. We kept ourselves alive with Saturday's performance."

Belfast Telegraph

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