Jones all clued up for James battle

When it comes to doing his homework on the opposition this weekend, British & Irish Lions tight head prop Adam Jones will be finished before anyone. [more]

Jones all clued up for James battle

When it comes to doing his homework on the opposition this weekend, British & Irish Lions tight head prop Adam Jones will be finished before anyone.

Why? Because he has played with or against Barbarians loose head Paul James for the past 16 years. Former team mates with both the Ospreys and Wales, they will pack down against each other in the Hong Kong Stadium on Saturday.

James left the Ospreys in the summer of 2012 to join Bath, having been with the Welsh region since its inception in 2003. He was touted as a potential tourist, but missed the cut.

That leaves Jones, ready to start the first game for a second successive tour, ready to deal with a wounded animal out to prove a point.

“I’m playing against one of my best mates, a player I’ve played with and against for the last 16 years, so there isn’t much I don’t know about him – or him about me,” said Jones.

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While Jones will know all there is to know about his direct opponent, and playing for the Lions, it will be a new experience for his propping partner Mako Vunipola, who will be one of 17 Lions debutants in the matchday 23.

“Mako has been amazing for Saracens this season. He’s 10 years younger than me and so we’ll sit down and look over the props before Saturday. He’s up against Martin Castrogiovanni,” said Jones.

“It’s great to have Richard Hibbard injury free once again to play at hooker. He was brilliant for Wales in the 6 Nations, although he has already told me he is the most nervous he has ever been before a game.

“It is the highest honour you can have as a British or Irish player, playing for the Lions. It’s the history of it all.

“We would all have watched the 1997 documentary and it sticks in your mind what an experience that was. Being a Lion means you are one of the best players in your position in the British Isles and right now I’d probably go for a Lions series win over a World Cup win if you pushed me.

“The first time we played in South Africa it was at altitude and it was very uncomfortable. I wouldn’t mind starting in the second or third game in normal conditions.

“But, as Ian McGeechan said, to start the first game on any tour is a massive thing and I am honoured to be playing at the weekend. It’s a massive game.

“A Barbarians v Lions game doesn’t come around very often. It’s not quite a Test match, but to have the game in such a special place as this makes it a huge game and very special to be involved in.”

World class opposition is going to make the opening game of the Lions’ historic 125th anniversary tour hard enough, but the heat and humidity will make it an even bigger ordeal for the players.

Jones had one word to describe the conditions after the Lions’ first training session in Hong Kong – “Horrific!

“It is horrible. It was a shock to the system more than anything. It was 35 degrees and very humid yesterday in training. Apparently it is going to be the hottest day of the year on Saturday,” added Jones.

“I’ve never played in conditions like this before. It gets a little bit balmy in Neath, but nothing as bad as this.

“It makes you feel sick although, as weird as it sounds, when you are training or running it wasn’t so bad. But when you stop and try to get your breath back it just wasn’t there. It stuck in your throat and you are left gagging for air.

“I sweat in normal conditions, and I’m sweating here in the air conditioning, so I don’t know what it’s going to be like on Saturday. Maybe I’ll lose a few pounds – that’d be good!”

Jones will be one of six former Lions in the opening day match squad and forsees no problems with the players from the four nations integrating quickly and forming a strong team.

“One of the best things about Warren’s mantra is that it’s very simple. It’s based on working hard and nothing is flash. It isn’t difficult to get into. When you come together as a squad you all know each other pretty well and it doesn’t take long to break down any boundaries. We play against each other so often these days and we’ve all got on pretty well,” he said.

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