Belfast Telegraph

Alun-Wyn Jones is happy to face James Horwill in tour showdown

By Robert Jones

Alun-Wyn Jones says he will have no problem with his opposite number James Horwill when they line up as rival captains in Sydney on Saturday.

Lock Jones has taken over from his fellow Welshman, hamstring injury victim Sam Warburton, as the British and Irish Lions skipper for the Test series decider.

Wallabies leader Horwill, meanwhile, plays after twice being cleared for stamping on Jones during the first Test match in Brisbane 11 days ago.

Horwill was cited for the offence, but after it was thrown out the International Rugby Board appealed that verdict, meaning a second hearing earlier this week that saw a separate judicial officer again rule in his favour.

"It's become a bit of a sideshow," said Jones, who has won 70 caps for Wales and will feature in his sixth successive Lions Test.

"I should imagine there will be some red faces somewhere for appealing the initial decision and coming up with the same decision, but that is not for me to comment on. I will just get on with it, and I am happy to shake his hand after the game as well."

Jones takes the reins this weekend as something of a surprise choice. Although Jones has skippered Wales in the past, most pundits thought Lions head coach Warren Gatland would hand leadership duties to Ireland centre Brian O'Driscoll.

Four-time Lions tourist O'Driscoll, though, has not made the match-day 23, missing out behind an all-Welsh midfield combination of Jonathan Davies and Jamie Roberts.

"I don't really want to change anything," Jones added. "I just want to keep going the way I have been going on a personal level.

"I am not going to tell the backs how to kick or to pass or to run. It's a case for me to do what I've been doing with the other players in the pack and hopefully bring the win.

"You can get swept away with it (captaincy), say too much, try too hard. I've been there and done that in the past for the Ospreys.

"In the first year of captaincy there I learnt a lot, but I've had a couple of years since and it's been going well for me there, so I will just carry on with what I've been doing back at the club, essentially.

"I know the next question will be it's a different circumstance, a big game and all the rest of it, but set that aside, it's just another rectangle of grass on the other side of the world."

O'Driscoll offered his congratulations to 27-year-old Jones after training in glorious sunshine at Noosa Dolphins Rugby Club yesterday, with the squad departing for Sydney today.

"He just congratulated me, simple as that," Jones said.

"He is very professional in his manner and just got on with the job in training. Everyone has done the same. We haven't got a lot of time to waste now.

Jones played in all three Tests on the 2009 Lions tour to South Africa. They lost the series 2-1, but were undone by a last-gasp Morne Steyn penalty in game two that gave the Springboks an unassailable advantage.

Jones added: "You can't carry hangovers like that for too long in sport because it comes back to bite you on the backside.

"Don't forget, going into the third Test we had already lost the series anyway, so it's now a different timeline. We are going into the third game with everything to play for."

Belfast Telegraph


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