Josh Adams has had a taste of The British & Irish Lions and now he’s hungry for more.
It’s been a memorable couple of months for the 26-year-old Wales winger, who missed the South Africa A game to watch his fiancée Georgia give birth to their daughter Lottie via Zoom.
After becoming a dad for the first time, Adams concluded his first Lions Tour by earning his first Test cap in the famous red jersey in the series decider against the Springboks.
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While the finale ultimately did not go the way of the tourists, Adams was emphatic when asked whether his first experience of the Lions had lived up to his expectations.
“Absolutely, 100 per cent. I think it’s vital the Lions continues for as long as possible,” he said.
“It’s a unique organisation that comes around every four years and the elite from the northern hemisphere get to represent this prestigious club.
“It’s the pinnacle of rugby union for the British and Irish boys. It’s an amazing experience. It’s very difficult to sum up and portray my feelings to you as you have to experience it yourself to really know what it’s like. In a simple word, it’s amazing.
“We’ve not been able to experience South Africa as fully as we might have wanted to, but it’s certainly made me hungry to kick on and be selected for the next Tour.
“I know it’s a long way away and many things can happen but if I was still playing well and available, to represent the Lions again would be incredible.”
Adams finished the 2021 Tour as the top try scorer for the Lions, crossing the whitewash eight times in total including a hat-trick against the Cell C Sharks and four against the Sigma Lions.
And having missed out on the matchday squad for the first two Tests before being called up for the decider, he reflected on a rollercoaster Tour both on and off the field.
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“It started off quite smoothly but as the due date got closer, you’re a bit more nervy about when she might go into labour. After a day or two of it all settling and knowing they were both ok, it was all focused on the first Test,” he said.
“The boys who got selected thoroughly deserved their spots. I kept my head down and made a conscious effort to get better in the two weeks I didn’t play and thankfully got my opportunity.
“After everything that’s happened throughout the Tour, to finally be able to say I’m a Test Lion is a fantastic feeling and I’m really proud to have joined a club of special, special players.
“To come so close is pretty gutting. After all the hard work we put in, I think we deserved more but that’s how rugby is sometimes. Hats off to South Africa, fair play.”
A try from Adams’ international teammate Ken Owens had put the tourists 10-6 up at the break in the third Test before the Springboks responded with a score from Cheslin Kolbe.
Penalties were traded by Finn Russell and Morne Steyn to set up a grandstand finish to the series, but it was the latter who had the final say – just as he had done back in 2009.
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But despite the Lions being left to rue several missed opportunities during a pulsating 80 minutes, Adams insisted there was no point dwelling on moments that have been and gone.
“There were slight tweaks in preparation this week and as a squad, we wanted to challenge South Africa more with the ball. At times, we certainly did that,” he said.
“There were a couple of missed opportunities which on another day would have gone our way but for me personally it’s been a fantastic experience.
“I’ve learned a lot from other players as well, not just the new coaches I’ve played with. Being able to train and play with them has been brilliant. I’m certainly a better player and person leaving this Tour.”
And when asked about what the players said to each other in the post-match huddle, Adams said the overriding message was what a privilege it has been to be part of the 2021 Tour.
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“There isn’t another game so there is no point looking at much detail,” he said. “It was more thanking everybody for their commitment, sacrifices and hard work over the past two months.
“It has been a special group of people to work with and we’ve all thoroughly enjoyed it, even though the series didn’t go our way everyone has enjoyed being part of the Lions in 2021.”