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'Sean Holley announced the boys who made it and also announced the boys who hadn't which was a bit weird and awkward'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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Ex-Wales tighthead Adam Jones has recalled the contrasting moments when he learned he had been selected to tour with the Lions in 2009 and 2013. The current Harlequins assistant coach is hopeful his club will hear some good news this Thursday when Warren Gatland announces his 2021 Lions squad to tour South Africa.


Twelve years ago, when the Lions last toured the home of the Springboks, Jones was chosen by Ian McGeechan but he didn’t immediately hear the good news as he was training when the live announcement took place and he recalls things then got awkward when he eventually learned he had been selected.    

“In ’09 we were training in the Vale with the Ospreys in the indoor arena,” said Jones, reflecting back on his first Lions tour call-up. “Training was cut-off about halfway through and Sean Holley announced the boys who made it and also announced the boys who hadn’t made it which was a bit weird and a bit awkward. 

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“So Ryan Jones didn’t make the squad, Hooky [James Hook] didn’t make the squad, Gav (Henson) didn’t make it. It was amazing to get the nod but it also was awkward when you are in a huddle in the middle of a training session and three boys who expected to go, I thought they might go, didn’t go.

“But the next one (in 2013) was just on Sky in the morning. I was pleased to go myself to Australia but to have two good mates like Hibs [Richard Hibbard] and Ian Evans to go as well, who I played a lot of rugby… just the elation to have two good mates go on tour with you and both were actually really good tourists.”

Getting selected was only the start for Jones, though, not the end as he set about working his way into Lions team selection, going on to make five Test appearances across the two series he was involved in. “If you grow up certainly where I’m from you are made aware of the Welsh teams of the 70s and made aware of Lions early doors. 


“Then you get the Living with the Lions video which was massive for understanding the passion and what it means to players and coaches, your McGeechans, Telfers, these guys who drove it so well. We used to recite the speeches from that video. 

“For me it’s the biggest thing for a British and Irish rugby player. There are World Cups with your country and I’m sure the English guys will have thoughts on that, but for me you get picked for the Lions and it’s the biggest thing you can do but then you want to play Test matches and then you want to win series. That for me was the biggest driver. 

“I didn’t want to go on tour and just be a bit-part player, I wanted to go on tour and play in the Tests but also impact the Tests. That was my big driving force. As soon as you get that jersey as a rugby player it’s the best feeling. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

With Harlequins’ players on a day off on Thursday, they won’t be together as a squad to hear the 2021 Lions announced. They didn’t have players starring in the recent Guinness Six Nations with England but the club form of the likes of Danny Care, Marcus Smith and Joe Marler has them in the selection conversation ahead of Gatland’s big reveal.  


Jones can’t wait to learn what unfolds. “The boys have been brilliant,” he said about the rich vein of form that has Harlequins challenging for a Gallagher Premiership playoff place and in Gatland’s thoughts. “The senior boys like Danny, Joe, Mike Brown, these guys have been excellent. They have bought into the plans we put forward to them.

“We kick more than anyone but it is the quality of kicks that someone like Danny Care is putting in. He is playing so well, that is what is getting him into the mix with the Lions talk. Marcus Smith’s kicking. We don’t just run it up our arse from our own line, we play in the right areas, we kick well, chase well and the boys are playing for each other now which is fantastic to see. 

“The London Irish game was testament to that. If we get a player, if we get a couple of players in (the Lions), it’s nothing more than those guys deserve because the last ten weeks have been a total shift really.”









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