There may be plenty of similarities between this year’s Lions tour and the class of 1997 but there is a least one stark difference this time around.
Both the 1997 and 2009 Lions faced or will face the daunting prospect of taking on the world champion Springboks in their own backyard but this year’s tourists will do so with a squad in which every member is a full-time professional.
The 1997 series against the Springboks was the first of the professional era yet five of the 36-man squad still held other employment at the time of the tour.
In the backs, Llanelli wing Ieuan Evans worked as an account manager with Forthright Finance Ltd in Swansea, while fellow Welshman Neil Jenkins was employed as a PR consultant.
Forwards Tim Rodber and Rob Wainwright were employed by the Army, as an officer and doctor respectively, while England hooker Mark Regan was a work co-ordinator at Avon Crane and Commercial Repairs in the West Country.
In addition to the five mentioned above, Wasps and England lock Simon Shaw was still technically a student when he made the trip to South Africa.