When he takes to the field on Saturday, Alun-Wyn Jones will be playing in his ninth consecutive Test match for the British and Irish Lions, eclipsing the record set by Brian O’Driscoll.
However, the big Welshman is not keen to reflect on records, even one that shows both real talent, consistency and longevity. Instead, there is only one focus on the mind of Jones: winning the match, and the series against a New Zealand side, who will be hurting after the Wellington defeat.
“It’s just another game. You’re only as good as your next one, not your previous so I’ll focus on the next one and not the ones that have gone,” Jones told the press at a Thursday press conference.
“I’ll enjoy it, but it’s not a time to reflect, nothing has been achieved yet, there’s still opportunities to fall at a final hurdle,” he added.
There have been some criticism of the second row, who has played 110 times for Wales, with many feeling he is not worthy of a spot on the starting XV. However, the views of supporters and pundits don’t matter to the 31-year-old – it’s just the players that are selected by Warren Gatland who get to take to the field after all.
“You get selected and you don’t realise how many selectors there are in the world,” he said.
“Fortunately, I was given another opportunity and today is another opportunity to speak to you (the press) and Saturday is going to be another opportunity to pull on the red of the Lions. Hopefully I can answer the questions that will always exist.
“If you get given the baton, you have got to make sure you stay out in front. There’s always going to be questions asked where there is competition and as long as you can answer those questions, then you are deserving of a place.
“You’re not going to please everyone – but it’s not about pleasing people it’s about winning rugby games. Hopefully we can do that, he added ahead of Saturday’s series decider.
On team selection, the starting line-up picked by All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has seen changes to the backline – with exciting prospect Jordie Barrett coming into the fray.
“I don’t think it’s a gamble, I don’t think New Zealand do that, they have gone with the foundation of a pack and some young, exciting players com into the backline so it’s going to be interesting to see what happens,” Jones said.
Joel Slattery, Pundit Arena
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Take a listen to Pundit Arena’s rugby podcast, The Oval Office, where we preview the crucial third Test between the Lions and New Zealand.