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'The fact some ex-players nowhere near as good as him were criticising him wound him up a bit': The making of Lions skipper Alun Wyn Jones

By Liam Heagney

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Retired Wales and Lions tighthead Adam Jones has saluted the expected confirmation this Thursday lunchtime of Alun Wyn Jones as the 2021 Lions tour captain, revealing how winter criticism from some ex-players considerably fired up the lock who went on to become the form second row in a title-winning Guinness Six Nations campaign. 


The world’s most capped player of all time apparently took to heart claims that he was past his best on the basis of his Autumn Nations Cup displays and he used this as fuel to ensure he was back to his very best when leading Wales to Six Nations title glory in a year where they were only denied the Grand Slam by a clock-in-the-red France try in Paris. 

Wales had in general endured a miserable 2020, even prompting calls for new coach Wayne Pivac to be sacked. However, the WRU kept faith in the Kiwi and he was rewarded by a rejuvenated Jones finding his best form to make him the prime candidate to now go on and lead the Lions on their tour to South African under Warren Gatland.

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Ex-prop Jones, who now coaches at Harlequins, twice went on Lions tours with his namesake, visiting South Africa and Australia in 2009 and 2013, and he can’t wait to hear confirmation that AWJ is the player Gatland now wants to skipper the squad in the home of the Springboks later this year. 

Speaking ahead of the Thursday lunchtime squad announcement, the former front-rower said: “Knowing him personally, he would have taken the criticism a lot of ex-players levelled at him in the autumn, he would have taken it very personally and would have worked doubly hard to get to that level. 

“I definitely know the fact that it was some ex-players who were nowhere near as good as him were criticising him wound him up a bit more. Look, he was outstanding, he was the form lock in the Six Nations. Everyone knows how good a captain he is for Wales. He was captain of the Lions once for that third Test in 2013, so he will take it all in his stride and the fact he is who is he is now, he has almost gone into that sort of Martin Johnson aura of his leadership with his influence on games and how good he is as a player. 


“At the end of the day if he didn’t demand a start in the Test, if he wasn’t good enough to start in the Tests he wouldn’t be captain – but the fact is he is the form lock in Britain and Ireland, he deserves it and I know he will do a great job as captain.”


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