Lions skipper Jones breaks silence after miracle injury comeback
Alun Wyn Jones has broken his silence on the remarkable 21 days which saw him go from suffering a tour-ending shoulder dislocation versus Japan in Edinburgh to running out as a Lions replacement in last Saturday’s tour win over the Stormers in Cape Town, an astonishing comeback that has now led to the veteran Welsh lock being handed a starting spot and the captaincy for this Saturday’s first Test versus the Springboks.
It was June 26 when Jones was injured when cleared out at a Murrayfield ruck and it was soon announced by the Lions that he would miss the tour due to the likely severity of the injury. However, it was just three days later while at home in Wales that he received the results of his scan and was told there was a chance that he could recover sufficiently and get back on the tour.
Jones wound up spending some time in training with Wales and after he came through a full-contact session unscathed on July 13, he was called back by the Lions, flying into Cape Town two days later and then playing 26 minutes off the bench in the July 17 win over the Stormers. Now he is set to lead the Lions out in what will be his tenth successive Test series cap with the famed tourists.
“I can’t swear on here so I won’t go into too much detail but the first few days after that and getting home, I was at home on the sofa before the guys had even got to the airport on the Sunday so that was a tough one,” said Jones at his virtual Lions media briefing on Wednesday from Cape Town after Gatland confirmed a first Test XV consisting of six England players and three each from Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
“Fast forward to the Tuesday where I was told there was a chance, it was bordering on surreal. To be here having taking the knocks and bumps, it means more in the fact that I spent two weeks with the guys.
“I was getting to know people, we were bedded into the rugby, I had the seven minutes (against Japan) and for the two days I was ‘tour done’, but I had the decent news on the Tuesday and sometimes all you need is a chance. I was willing to work hard and make it difficult for the guy next to me (Gatland).
“There weren’t many thoughts I can share with you (from that Tuesday). It was a quick couple of phone calls to get the apparatus I needed to start the recovery, to be ready for the next day, and I made sure I didn’t dwell on that and the situation for too long. It was about being proactive and starting the recovery and that is what I did and I guess that is why I am here.
“It has been pretty whistle stop for me since I spoke to Warren and some of the management about being involved last Saturday literally off the plane. I was fortunate enough to get game time on Saturday and put myself in contention. To be sitting here now and be involved in the Test week is everything I worked for really over the last four years. To be sitting here now is a very, very special thing.”
Jones added he will be keeping things simple in terms of the messages he will be giving to the players in the build-up to Saturday’s Test series opener. “Very basic. When you get to this level and the calibre of players we have it doesn’t have to be over complicated. A big one is going to be composure.
“We are going to be in an arm wrestle. There is going to be a territory battle and the basic messages are going to be along those lines. There is going to be a lot of emotion involved but the calibre of player and the simplistic nature of that approach is what I have used with previous teams and Wales in the past and I’ll continue in a similar vein.
“He [Gatland] has probably had the hardest selection because of the quality of player we have, but the message I gave to the squad back at The Lensbury was we have come to win a Test series and we have a squad that is capable of starting that ball rolling.”
Gatland said: “It is great in terms of him making a brilliant recovery to make himself available. He had a run-out the other day, had some time on the pitch and it’s fantastic. With regard to the selection, there were a lot of discussions and we did discuss whether we should start him on the bench.
“But when the decision was made that we were going to go with Ali Price at No9 we felt we really needed his experience and leadership in terms of starting in the second row. It’s pretty important to us to have him back.”
Tomorrow at 7pm ?
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 21, 2021
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