Lions kicking coach Neil Jenkins says Alun Wyn Jones should never be written off amid reports that the veteran second rower may yet still appear for the Lions.
“I’ve known Alun for a long time and have certainly never written him off in any way, shape or form. Nothing surprises me with Alun either on or off the pitch; if anyone could get back into the international game it would be him.
“He’s a world-class player, a class act in everything he does. If someone of that calibre becomes available again then it’s a no-brainer really.”
Jenkins, who was part of the Lions’ victorious 1997 touring party, elaborated on what it means to be a Lion.
“It’s the ultimate honour. I’ve said it since I’ve been involved. As a player you want to earn the respect of your peers. You can see it in the intensity in training, the skills level and accuracy. These players are at the top of their game and deserve to be here. “
The Lions have already started their 2021 tour well after a decisive victory over Japan. Jenkins says while the win was encouraging, the real test is due to start with their first game away from home.
“We want to perform. Japan are not an easy side, they play a certain style and a certain brand of rugby and they are very good at what they do. The [Sigma] Lions will bring another level; you’re in South Africa itself, so it’s important that you start well.
“We look at the opposition, but a lot of time is spent looking at ourselves and making sure we’re in the right place to perform at the highest level. We’ll do a fair bit of analysis and give they boys the best chance to put everything in place.”
The Lions have named a 10-12 axis of Finn Russell and Owen Farrell. There will be a lot of expectation on them with the rugby world keenly awaiting how they will perform as a combination.
“Both are world-class players, exceptional for their countries, and it’s their first time playing together tomorrow. They’re looking forward to it. Owen will kick tomorrow, he’s a world-class kicker.”
Pressed on whether there would be a repeat of 2009 where a kick at goal clinched the series, Jenkins was quick to agree that it could be a formative element of this year’s series.
“The series could come down to it [goal-kicking] and I’d like to think we have some fantastic goal-kickers with us in the squad. We’ve got some long rangers in our squad with Elliot [Daly] and Stuart [Hogg].“