Global calendar should not hamper future Lions' tour - Adam Jones

Adam Jones wants the Lions' tradition to continue
Adam Jones wants the Lions' tradition to continue

Former Wales international Adam Jones is hopeful that the global calendar that is set to roll out from 2020 will not affect future British and Irish Lions tours.

At one stage when Lions lost 2-1 to Australia and 3-0 to New Zealand in 2001 and 2005 respectively, questions were raised on scheduling such tours in future but Sir Ian McGeechan and Warren Gatland played significant roles in helping them reviving back during the 2009 and 2013 tours of South Africa and Australia respectively.

In the 2013 series against Australia, Lions went on to win the series 1-2 and brought an end to a nine-year home record of New Zealand at home when they registered a 21-24 win in Wellington in the ongoing series against All Blacks to level the series 1-1, with a game to go.

Jones, who represented Lions during the 2009 and 2013 tours insisted that the team has done enough to continue the tradition going.

“Whatever happens on Saturday, this tour has brought back a lot of pride to the shirt. The trips in 2001 and 2005 put a bit of a dampener on the whole idea, but there will be a lot of momentum behind the Lions going forward," said Jones in an exclusive interview to ESPN.

“There's a bit of talk about where the tours fit on the future global calendar. For me, it's got to keep going and I think 95 percent of fans would say the same thing.

“If the new global season stops it then I think whoever is in that meeting and makes that call needs to bugger off somewhere else. Playing the Lions is a big deal, as you'll see again this Saturday at Eden Park.”

Jones, who was part of the starting line-up in the 2013 deciding game against Australia which Lions won 16-41 was confident that Gatland will not provide another shock ahead of the Eden Park game like he did with dropping Brian O'Driscoll against the Wallabies.

However, he did admit that O'Driscoll's exclusion helped the pressure ease off on the rest of the players.

“I didn't really feel the pressure in the lead up to that third Test in Sydney, mainly because all the attention was on one man. Once the team was released and everyone saw that Gats had dropped Brian O'Driscoll all the focus was on that selection rather than the game itself," added Jones.

“I don't know whether that was a masterstroke by him to take some of the pressure off us, but we just knew from then we had to get out there and perform on Saturday.

“You never know with Gats, but I can't see him dropping another bombshell this week. If he wants to chuck in someone out of left field then he will.

“But I feel like the forward pack really fronted up in the second Test so I can't see any changes there, and in the back line I felt the 10-12 axis with Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell worked well."

Despite, their success in Wellington, the 36-year-old warned the Lions to be prepared for a "backlash" from All Blacks on Saturday.

“Facing the All Blacks is difficult enough, let alone when they're hurting. They'll be peeved after Saturday's loss to the British & Irish Lions in Wellington, and a wounded New Zealand side who haven't had it their way have a knack of delivering a passionate response when they get their next chance.

“Playing against them in Cardiff for Wales back in 2006 will always stick with me. For some reason the powers that be decided that it would be a good idea to try and convince the All Blacks to do their haka before we responded with our national anthem.

“Usual tradition is to do the anthems first before they lay down their challenge. They obviously said no and subsequently decided to do the haka in their changing room, which was shown on the big screen at the Millennium Stadium before the anthems were sung.

“They put 40-odd points on us that day, and Nick Evans -- who I have played with for the last couple of years at Harlequins and was in involved in that All Blacks squad -- has since told me the incident ensured they wanted to destroy us.

“As players we had wound them up without realising because the management and our Welsh Rugby Union wanted to mess around with the haka, which proved to be the wrong call.

“I'm not saying the Lions have gone out of their way to 'poke the bear' to use a quote Warren Gatland used in the media this week, but they need to be prepared for a backlash.”