I Was Willing To Work Hard To Return – Alan Wyn Jones


Lazarus has got nothing on British & Irish Lions skipper Alun Wyn Jones. The 35-year-old thought his 2021 Tour was over before it had even started after dislocating his shoulder just seven minutes into the 28-10 victory over Japan in Edinburgh.

But against all the odds, the Welshman joined up with the squad in South Africa just 18 days after suffering the injury having completed a miraculous recovery to make an appearance against the Stormers.

Jones will now lead the Lions in the series opener against the Springboks and after being picked for his tenth consecutive Test, the lock admitted this opportunity means so much more to him.

“I can’t swear so I won’t go into too much detail but the first few days after the injury, getting home, I think I was home on the sofa before the guys had got to the airport,” he said.

“That was a tough one. Fast forward to the Tuesday where I was told there was a chance, it was bordering on surreal so to be here and take knocks and be with the group, it means more.

“I’m not going to lie, it does mean more. The fact that I spent two weeks with the guys, getting to know people and we were bedding in with the rugby and I had the seven minutes against Japan.

“For those two days, that was my Tour done but I’ve had news on the Tuesday and sometimes all you need is a chance and I was willing to work hard and make it difficult for Warren.”

Jones will make more history in the red jersey on Saturday when he wins his tenth-successive Test cap in Cape Town, joining an illustrious list of names to have achieved the same feat.

The four-time tourist becomes part of an exclusive club that includes the likes of Gareth Edwards (10), Graham Price (12), Mike Gibson (12) Dickie Jeeps (13) and Willie John McBride (17).

And the world’s most-capped Test player was quick to pay tribute to all those who helped him complete his remarkable comeback, including the medics who gave him a glimmer of hope.

“It wasn’t just me, there was a lot of help back home, I’m not going to say it’s all me. I’ve had a lot of support, a lot of planning that was put in place in regards to the shoulder,” he said.

“It’s been pretty whistle-stop for me since I spoke to Gats and some of the management about being involved Saturday, literally off the plane, because we hadn’t got that far.

“Timelines had moved forward a bit so I was fortunate to get the game time on Saturday and put myself in contention so to be sitting here now and involved in the Test is everything.

“It’s everything I’ve been working for over the last – I would be lying if I said two years – probably four years – obviously when you finish a series you never know if you’re going to do the next one.

“A lot of games go under the bridge as it were so to be sitting here now is a very, very special but it’s only a short step towards what is hopefully going to be a very enjoyable week.”

Jones only arrived in South Africa last Thursday morning before coming through a 26-minute appearance in the 49-3 victory against the Stormers to prove his fitness.

And when asked what his message will be to the players in the build-up to the highly-anticipated first Test, Jones stressed that he is not about to change his normal approach to captaincy.

“We’ve seen the rugby we’ve been able to play and produce across the games leading up to this week and I think the big thing is going to be composure, we’re going to be in an arm wrestle.

“There is going to be a territory battle, so the basic messages are going to be along those lines, it doesn’t have to be overcomplicated as there’s going to be a lot of emotion involved anyway.

“The calibre of player and the simplistic approach is what I’ve used with previous teams and Wales in the past and I’ll continue to do the same thing now.

“I have done enough Six Nations launches and the word momentum comes out at every one. It is exactly the same in this series. You want to get out of the blocks as much as the opposition.

“It is our opportunity to do that at the weekend. We set out to come and win a Test series. I think we have a squad here capable of doing just that.”