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Nicol goes from tour guide to Lions bench

Nicol goes from tour guide to Lions bench

If you fancy going on the 2017 Tour to New Zealand then make sure your guide isn’t a former Lion – because he just might get called up to play, just like Andy Nicol in 2001.

If you fancy going on the 2017 Tour to New Zealand then make sure your guide isn’t a former Lion – because he just might get called up to play, just like Andy Nicol in 2001.

The Scottish scrum-half, a veteran of the 1993 tour to New Zealand, was in Sydney for the last Test of the 2001 series, working for a Lions tour operator when he received a shock call from coach Graham Henry.

Austin Healey was suffering from a back spasm and an injury to Rob Howley had left the Lions without any scrum-half back-up to Matt Dawson, who was carrying an injury himself.

At the age of 30, and by his own admission a little out of shape, Nicol was convinced he was the subject of a prank.

Yet once it dawned on the former Bath No.9, he gladly answered the SOS.

“I was convinced it was a wind-up by someone with a comedy Irish accent,” recalled Nicol. “And then I realised it really was Donal Lenihan [tour manager] and he was being deadly serious!

“I wasn't in great shape to be honest. I'd been leading a tour group around Australia, and we all know what goes on with tours…so maybe it was just as well I didn't play.

“I think the adrenalin would have seen me through the first five or ten minutes but after that I might have struggled – luckily Matt Dawson's body held together.”

Fans are now able to guarantee their place on the 2017 Tour to New Zealand with a fully refundable £250 Priority Access Pass for the official supporter packages. Guarantee your place at the front of the queue when ticket-inclusive travel packages go on sale during the 2015/16 season, and also receive an exclusive invite to meet the Lions Head Coach before their depart for New Zealand. With exclusive access to special events, flights and hotels, it's the genuine Lions experience – click here for more details.

 

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