He may have three Grand Slams, a fourth RBS 6 Nations title and four Celtic League championships under his belt, but Adam Jones freely admits Saturday’s third Test in Sydney will be the biggest game of his career.
The British & Irish Lions tight head prop is preparing for his final game in Lions colours and still believes he can add a series victory to his career highlights with a defining victory over the Qantas Wallabies.
“We’re still very confident that we can win the series. We’ve got a few days to look at what happened in Melbourne and then five days to realise this is the biggest game any of us will ever play other than a World Cup final,” said Jones.
“We’re all disappointed about last weekend, but we’ve all played in big games before and I can’t see us being nervous about this weekend. We will lick our wounds this week and we know that we can take it up a level as a whole team.
“We know that in the first two Tests we haven’t played as well as we could. At 15-9 we needed at least another three points to take us clear because the Aussies fight until the bitter end – we know that from the past over here with Wales.
“Everyone was gutted in the dressing room in Melbourne. We could have won it and we should have won it.”
It was another up and down day at the scrum for both teams at the weekend and Jones is looking forward to having a northern hemisphere referee, Romain Poite, in charge of the series decider at the ANZ Stadium on Saturday – the third different referee of the series, although a familiar official for the Lions.
Having conceded two early scrum penalties, the Lions hit back to reclaim the six points that Christian Leali’ifano plundered. But what does Jones expect on his 93rd international appearance in Sydney?
“We thought we had the upper hand at the scrum towards the end of the first half, but they came out with a few tricks after that. We were looking to go forward, but they kept collapsing and Ben Alexander was coming across Mako,” said Jones.
“There were a few issues concerning certain things and we will look to tweak a few things before next week. I’ve said all along that Australia have a good scrum. There was a lot of kidology in the early scrums, but I thought we dealt with it pretty well.
“We took those two driving line-outs and maybe if we’d gone for a third they might have got a yellow card. But instead we took the points.
“We could have done with winning and I guess games don’t come much bigger than Saturday now. This is my last tour with the Lions, and it will be Brian O’Driscoll’s as well, and if anyone deserves to end his career with a series victory it is him.”
Jones could only sit and watch as the Wallabies hit the front with Adam Ashley-Cooper’s try set up Leali’ifano to strike the winning conversion with three minutes left to play. Then came Leigh Halfpenny’s late, late long-range penalty shot to try to win the game at the death for the tourists.
“It was a difficult game and we knew they were always going to be in it. It was difficult to watch from the bench, but we knew we need that extra score to put more daylight between us,” said Jones.
“Nobody expected Leigh to make that kick at the end. We should have put the game to bed by then.
“Leigh is very quiet, but very strong inside, like all good goalkickers. He won’t let it affect him and it’s not his fault we lost. He is very diligent and it takes real guts to step up to try to win a Test series from that distance. But then he is probably the best goalkicker in the world at the moment.”