Alun Wyn Jones: British & Irish Lions captaincy is 'a huge privilege'
Wales captain Jones, who is involved in his fourth Lions tour, was chosen by Warren Gatland to skipper the team in South Africa. "As a rugby player, you want to be involved in those Test matches and challenges you read about and see as a child growing up and as a supporter," he said
Last Updated: 06/05/21 6:22pm
Alun Wyn Jones revealed his pride at following some of the icons of British & Irish Lions history after being named as captain for this summer's tour to South Africa.
The 35-year-old, who made his Lions debut on the 2009 tour of South Africa, was chosen to skipper Warren Gatland's squad after a season which saw him lead Wales to a Six Nations triumph ahead of favourites England and France.
Jones has known since the weekend he would be unveiled as captain at Thursday's squad announcement after a receiving a phone call from head coach Gatland and while his aim was just to be part of the squad again, he was honoured to be named captain too.
"I had a missed call from 'Gats' on Sunday evening, so I thought I'd better give him a call back and we had a quick chat, and accepted," Jones said.
"It's obviously a huge privilege, but to be selected in the squad is initially what you want to hear as a player and to have the armband as well is a privilege, and the fact the names who have gone before and what they've achieved in this jersey and for their respective Home Nations.
"Initially, the draw is to get into the squad and then anything can happen from there. I've got a huge amount of pride to add this to the CV, but there is a lot of work to do when we get out there and face all of the games ahead."
To go on that first tour in '09 to now, you look back and it feels worlds away. But that's why I've kept going, I love the sport and I love what I do, and I'll continue in a similar vein.
British & Irish Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones
Gatland and Jones are both familiar with how the other works from the former's time in charge of the Wales national team as well as being on the past four British & Irish Lions tours together.
The New Zealander, who served as forwards coach against the Springboks in 2009 before leading the Lions on their two most recent tours to Australia and his homeland, had little doubt over choosing the Ospreys second row as captain.
"I think it was the easiest decision in terms of looking at how Wales did in the Six Nations, the respect he has as a player from so many people and what he has achieved in the game," Gatland told Sky Sports.
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"The conversation as well was about you've got to play well because there is a lot of competition in that second row - and no one understands that better than he does.
"He sets a brilliant example in the way he trains and the expectations he sets around a team, but he knows there are some quality players riding on his heels and his form has to be good enough to be selected for the Test side."
Jones already holds the record as the most-capped Test player in rugby union history with 157 international appearances and could take his total number of Lions caps to 12 by the end of this summer's tour.
I think it was the easiest decision in terms of looking at how Wales did in the Six Nations, the respect he has as a player from so many people and what he has achieved in the game.
Warren Gatland on naming Alun Wyn Jones Lions captain
His passion burns as bright as it did when he was a young rugby fan growing up in Swansea and taking his first steps in the sport with Bonymaen though, and he cannot wait to tackle the current Rugby World Cup holders again in their own backyard.
"As a rugby player, you want to be involved in those Test matches and challenges you read about and see as a child growing up and as a supporter," Jones said.
"As a professional, to be involved, the significance isn't lost on me and there are a few Home Nations who played against South Africa in the World Cup as well. It will be interesting to see how we go out there, but to do that is a huge honour.
"To go on that first tour in '09 to now, you look back and it feels worlds away. But that's why I've kept going, I love the sport and I love what I do, and I'll continue in a similar vein."
From 6pm, tune in on Sky Sports for the Lions Announcement Special, where Alex Payne will be joined by Warren Gatland and the Lions captain as well as Bryan Habana and Will Greenwood.
Watch every match from South Africa exclusively live on Sky Sports this summer.