The talismanic lock staged his comeback
Alun Wyn Jones returns in Lions win over Stormers
In commentary, former British & Irish Lions skipper Sam Warburton said, “I’m watching him like a hawk” about one player. That man? Alun Wyn Jones.
His was the most unlikely of comebacks. We were told his tour was over before it started, with what we were told was a dislocated shoulder just seven minutes into action against Japan. But his recovery kicked into overdrive, and against the odds he was flying out to South Africa to rejoin the squad. And then he was coming on against the Stormers in their last outing before the Test series against the Springboks becomes the be all and end all…
The Lions would go on to win 49-3, but it was a tricky match to begin with. It was a first half marked by top spoiling from the Stormers and disjointed Lions play. But the Lions did get the edge eventually and scored tries from Adam Beard and Luke Cowan-Dickie.
However, as the second half progressed the changes were rung and on came that familiar figure.
If there were any doubts about Jones’s ability to take contact, the lock put in three tackles in close succession with the shoulder in question.
The Lions would go on to pour on the tries – it was a hell of a day for the forwards as Jonny Hill, Conan, Zander Fagerson and Sam Simmonds all scored, with a cameo score for flying Louis Rees-Zammit too. And give credit to Marcus Smith who knocked over all seven conversions.
They got the result they needed and some players put their hand up. But the effort of Jones to go about his business in typical fashion, without fuss, will please the Lions management no end.
Lions head coach Warren Gatland confirmed post-match that Jones has resumed his role as tour captain.
As for Jones’s performance from the bench, Gatland said: “He put a few shots on and defended well, and had a couple of touches. The big thing for him was to get through that period and see how he was afterwards, how his lungs were.
“I know how hard he’s worked over the last year or so to make the Lions. He felt in 2017 that he wasn’t at his best and has been exceptional in how he’s prepared for this tour. It was a shame he picked up that injury but we’re delighted to have him back.
“We will have a conversation to see if he is involved as a starter or on the bench, or not at all.”
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