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Video: Owens honoured to lead out the Lions

Ken Owens was taken by surprise when Warren Gatland asked him to captain the Lions against the Blues on Wednesday but the hooker jumped at the chance to prove himself on Tour.

“It’s a massive honour and a challenge that I am relishing on Wednesday night.”

The Welshman has been recovering from an ankle injury and was not a part of the matchday 23 for the Lions Tour opening victory over the New Zealand Barbarians.

But he will wear the No 2 jersey at Eden Park on Wednesday when the tourists take on the Blues in their first clash against Super Rugby opposition.

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And Owens admits it will be an honour unlike anything he has experienced before, when he leads out the Lions in Auckland.

“It’s unbelievable, when Gats asked me last night it was a bit of a shock, a huge honour and it did not take me too long to answer,” he said.

“It’s a massive honour and a challenge that I am relishing on Wednesday night, leading the boys out and hopefully putting a massive performance in that the Lions shirt deserves.

“I always try to put my best foot forward, to try and show the way by the way I play.

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“There is a lot of experience in the side so there is not going to be a need for too much shouting, and big inspiring speeches.

“There is a lot of experience in that room so it is just about giving direction and hopefully the boys will follow me.”

Owens’ Tour hopes came close to ending before they began when he sustained his ankle problem on club duty with the Scarlets.

The injury ruled him out of his region’s run to the Guinness PRO12 title but he proved his fitness to Gatland and the coaching staff and is itching to get his Tour going.

“It was a massive worry (when the injury happened), I had a nervous 72 hours icing my foot and getting it rested up to get in a position to prove to the coaches and physios that I could rehab and get myself on the Tour,” he added.

“Luckily Gats gave me the opportunity and the physios have been incredible and I am thankful to be on this trip and ready to put a marker down.”

And after Saturday’s narrow win over the NZ Provincial Barbarians, Owens has called on his side to lift the level again against the Blues.

“There were some aspects of the game on Saturday night we need to work on and improve but there were a lot of positives we took from the game,” he added.

“And some things we will look to implement that were there for us to see.

“We know we have to create momentum game on game into the Test matches. We have 15 news guys starting with an opportunity to put our hands up to be in the team in three or four week’s time.

“Maro (Itoje) and Courtney (Lawes) have played quite a lot together in the second row, Rhys and Dan at 9 and ten as well.

“There is plenty of experience right across the board and experienced combinations that will give us some stability.

“We are just looking forward to this challenge and getting out there. It’s a first opportunity for most of us to put the Lions shirt on.”

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