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Owens continues Lions tradition of putting team first

Owens continues Lions tradition of putting team first

Ken Owens proved once again this weekend what a wonderful leader he is by stepping in at No.8 for his injury-hit Scarlets side.

The British & Irish Lions hooker – who captained the touring side in a mid-week match against the Blues in New Zealand back in 2017 – stepped up to the mark in the back row in their Welsh derby on Saturday against the Dragons.

The 32-year-old club captain totalled 12 carries for 25 metres while also chipping in five tackles and a turnover in their 22-13 win over the Dragons.

The victory snapped a five-game losing streak for the Scarlets who also had 2017 Lions man of the series Jonathan Davies playing in midfield.

Packing down at No.8 because of injuries to James Davies, Aaron Shingler, Will Boyde, Blade Thomson, Josh Macleod and Uzair Cassiem – Owens proved to be a team man through and through.

And Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac – who will take over Wales after the 2019 World Cup – was not short of praise for his skipper who may have to play there again in Europe next weekend against Leicester Tigers.

“We didn’t have anyone else! It was him or Hadleigh Parkes and that’s the reality,” said Pivac. 

“With our attacking structure, Ken is out in those wide channels anyway. It didn’t really matter if he had a No.2 or a No.8 on his back.

“It just meant a positional change in terms of the set-piece and I thought he handled it pretty well.

“It shows the true leader that he is to get a British Lion to move from the front row to the back row at this level of the game.

“He is putting the jersey first and the club first.”

Lions tours have often required players to step in out of position for the good of the team.

Tommy Bowe started the third Test of the 2009 series against South Africa at outside centre while Stuart Hogg played plenty of minutes on the 2013 tour to Australia at fly-half.

Further back David Duckham switched from centre to wing for the 1971 tourists who downed the All Blacks while in 1997 Neil Jenkins was switched to full-back from fly-half for their series win over the Springboks.

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