Trio lauded by legend

Lions legend Graham Price has described the current Wales front row as 'the best in the northern hemisphere'. [more]

Trio lauded by legend

Lions legend Graham Price has described the current Wales front row as ‘the best in the northern hemisphere’.

Price, who toured three times with the Lions in 1977, 1980 and 1983, believes 2009 Lions Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees and Adam Jones are a class apart from anything else European rugby has to offer.

The trio cemented a growing collective reputation with a series of superb displays for Ian McGeechan’s Lions last summer as they all started the second Test against the Springboks.

In doing so they became the first all-Welsh front row to feature in an international for the Lions since 1955 when Billy Williams, Bryn Meredith and Courtenay Meredith helped the tourists secure a 2-2 series draw.

Unfortunately for Jenkins, Rees and Jones, injuries then kept them apart for nine months prior to the final round of the Six Nations.

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The trio were finally reunited for Saturday’s clash with Italy and Price believes it was no coincidence that Wales spent most of that game on the front foot and eventually ran out comfortable 33-10 winners.

"Those three lads have to be up there as the best in northern hemisphere, especially after giving world champions South Africa such a rough ride,” said Price, who played in a remarkable 12 straight Tests for Britain and Ireland’s elite.

"They have sheer power, good technique and are mobile enough to put in some big hits around the park.

“Wales have sorely missed them."

Price has a warning for his countrymen, however, and he speaks from experience.

Now 58, Price has told the trio not to rest on their laurels.

Having been part of the famous Wales and Pontypool front row nicknamed the Viet Gwent in reference to the fearsome Viet Cong rebels from the Vietnam War, Price knows exactly what it’s like to be regarded as one of the world’s best.

Alongside Bobby Windsor and Charlie Faulkner, Price was part of the front row that everyone wanted to get one over on. He was constantly a target for the opposition and he expects his contemporaries to be held in the same light following their exploits with the Lions.

"Once you build up a reputation like theirs, you’re there to be knocked down,” added Price.

"Everyone wants a shot at you, whatever the occasion.

“When I played, we even had young props trying to make a name against us in charity matches.

“The challenge is to keep getting better."

That message has registered with tight-head prop Jones, who admits that success with the world’s most-famous touring team brings added pressures.

"We all went pretty well in the Lions but with that new reputation comes expectancy and people aiming to knock you down,” said Jones.

“But that’s still better than having sh*t written about you."

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