Legend backs Ryan the Lion
WALES’ Newport-born skipper Ryan Jones is being tipped to be included in the Lions squad for this summer’s tour of Australia by England legend Jason Robinson.
Jones leads Wales for a record 32nd time today, retaining the captaincy despite the return to the starting line-up of openside flanker Sam Warbur-ton. The versatile forward is in fine form, his leadership qualities key to Wales’ revival with their successive Six Nations away wins over France and Italy.
Another top performance this afternoon by the Bassaleg School old boy could cement his place in Warren Gatland’s squad to take on the Wallabies Down Under.
Jones, who will be 32 next week, was one of the few Lions to return home with his reputation enhanced in 2005 after he was called up as a replacement.
Sir Clive Woodward’s ill-fated side were whitewashed 3-0 by the All Blacks in a decidedly one-sided series.
Wales’ 2008 Grand Slam captain, who can play blindside, number eight and lock, was omitted from the initial 2009 Lions squad that lost 2-1 to the Springboks.
And although he was called up at the 11th hour, a day after arriving in South Africa he had to return home suffering from concussion sustained on Wales’ tour of North America.
The ex-Newport and Risca Youth man has shown tremendous resilience throughout his career and has made more comebacks than Frank Sinatra.
Former England wing Robinson, a star on the Lions’ epic 2001 series with the Wallabies which the Aussies won 2-1, believes Jones will be in the reckoning when Gatland picks his squad for June’s three-match series.
“Ryan is gaining more and more confidence each game he plays and has got a lot of experience behind him as well so he’s certainly a serious contender in my mind,” he said.
“He has been there and done it before and it seems that the challenge and opportunity he has got with Wales, he is taking full advantage of.
“It is good for Welsh rugby and certainly good for the Lions tour and for every player.”
Robinson, a World Cup winner in 2003, added: “You have got to be making a noise on that field in order to attract the attention of Gatland and co and Ryan is demonstrating that.
“There are sometimes battles within games where you have to beat your opposite number and you need to be dominant and that will give you a boost.
“You want people to keep seeing the impact you have on a game and hopefully when May comes you are going to get the nod so it is hotting up really nicely right now for Ryan.”
Three-times Grand Slam winner Jones was one of Wales’ stand-out players during their remarkable 46-22 victory over Scotland in 2005 at Murrayfield.
His rampaging runs that day led to him scoring a memorable try, one of only two he has bagged for his country in a 72-cap career.
Wales will be looking for a similar winning margin today as last year’s Grand Slam winners look to maintain their outside chance of retaining the Six Nations title.
- 2001 Lions legend Jason Robinson is an ambassador for the Rosslyn Park HSBC National Schools Sevens and will be running coaching clinics during the tournament courtesy of HSBC.
For more information visit www.rpns7.co.uk/p/hsbc-coaching-clinics