Alun Wyn Jones came on in the second half against the Stormers
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Alun Wyn Jones has been declared fit for selection ahead of the British and Irish Lions’ opening Test against South Africa in Cape Town on Saturday.
Steve Tandy, the Lions defence coach, confirmed that Jones had not suffered any adverse reaction to his 26-minute cameo, having recovered from his dislocated shoulder, and is “fit and raring to go”.
“Al historically, he does some pretty special things such as coming back for the autumn and the Six Nations off not a lot of rugby,” Tandy said. “It was only three weeks (since the injury) but you have seen the training he has been doing, he keeps himself in absolutely great shape so there will be no issues there.
“His form coming into the Six Nations was really pleasing and he has got unbelievable experience, his leadership qualities are outstanding as well. He was tour captain at the start and there will be no issues in and around Al.
“You have only got to see him walking around and the energy he brings in training, how is around the environment, he will be fine.”
Tandy has first-hand experience of working with Jones when he was head coach at the Ospreys and said it would be an “unbelievable achievement” if he wins his 10th Test cap for the Lions.
“He was the captain the whole time I was there at the Ospreys,” Tandy added. “He was outstanding. The standards he drives, the intensity he drives in training is unbelievable. Then away from the training environment you’ve only got to see through having an injury like that against Japan, 99 per cent of people are not coming back and are giving up.
“That tells its own story of Alun Wyn as a person, a professional athlete. He never gives up. And it’s not just that it’s the professional detail that goes into it, the recovery, pre-hab, re-hab. I haven’t seen anyone like him being that professional. The lengths he takes it to are pretty unique.
“When we speak about his professionalism on and off the field, you only get to achieve something like that with how you look after yourself. To drive yourself on tour after tour, international after international, is a special achievement. You only have to work with him for a couple of days for it to come out how driven he is to perform and get the team on the same page.”
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The players are set to learn by Tuesday if they have been selected for the 23-man Test squad after head coach Warren Gatland and his coaching team concluded a 90-minute selection meeting on Sunday night.
Tandy said there were going to be “a lot of unlucky players”.
“It was one of the toughest things that I have been involved in as so many people have put their hands up in terms of putting their best foot forward,” Tandy added.
“There are going to be massive decisions. There are going to be a lot of unlucky players, but they represent the Lions. We had an initial selection process last night, which was a long one in fairness, just covering all bases.
“A lot of people have put their hands up and it is a great place for us as coaches to be. There will be bitter disappointment, but I believe that within this squad there is such a tight connection that everyone will be geared-up to winning that first Test whether you are in the 23 or not.
“The meeting was a good hour-and-a-half, maybe a bit longer. It was a good initial meeting and we were becoming clearer and clearer as we went along. We will confirm it and Gats will announce it at an appropriate time.”