Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones insists he will still fight for his place

Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones insists he will fight for his place despite being handed the armband after coach Warren Gatland admitted all places are up for grabs

  • Warren Gatland has said Alun Wyn Jones has no divine right to a starting place 
  •  The Welshman was named captain of the side by Gatland ahead of the tour 
  • Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes and Iain Henderson will provide competition at lock
  • Wyn Jones has stressed the need for rivalry and says he will fight for his position 

Lions skipper Alun Wyn Jones insists he will fight for the right to start in the Test team.

Warren Gatland has stated that the skipper has no divine right to a starting place – and Jones is taking nothing for granted.

Lock competition is stiff with the likes of Jones, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, Iain Henderson, Jonny Hill and Tadhg Beirne.

Alun Wyn Jones insists he will fight for the right to start in the Test team despite being captain

‘You get a lot of congratulations for being captain but you want to be in that Test team,’ said Jones. 

‘There is Competition across the squad. There is a plethora of options, including hybrids that can cover back-row as well. That’s what you want. A strong squad so that a strong Test team comes through.

‘That list is lot longer than just 37. There is a host of others who would give a limb to be involved. To be in that squad is hugely special and it won’t be wasted.’

British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland wants his squad to be ready for a battle

British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland wants his squad to be ready for a battle 

World champions South Africa will be a tough test for Warren Gatland's squad, starting in June

World champions South Africa will be a tough test for Warren Gatland’s squad, starting in June

After being handed the armband, Jones said: ‘It’s surreal, I’ve always been fully aware of all those involved for the Lions, not just the captains.

‘To have your name tagged on to the end of those names is surreal and I totally understand the expectations of the four nations, of the fans.

‘It (tour) has already been unique with the will it, won’t it happen, and when will the squad be announced.

‘The jeopardy that has already happened means we will have a siege mentality from the off because of the forced bubble and fact that we will have to spend so much time together.’

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Saracens 48-20 Ealing Trailfinders: Owen Farrell scores 23 in five-try victory for Sarries

Saracens 48-20 Ealing Trailfinders: Mark McCall backs his second-tier stars for Lions Tour as Owen Farrell scores 23 in comfortable five-try victory for Sarries

  • Saracens boss Mark McCall backs his Saracens players for upcoming Lions Tour 
  • Star-studded Sarries beat Championship toppers Ealing Trailfinders comfortably
  • Captain Owen Farrell scored 23 points and Saracens went over for five tries 

Saracens boss Mark McCall thinks his players will be in better shape for the Lions tour to South Africa than their Celtic counterparts, despite playing in the second tier.

Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Jamie George, Elliot Daly and Billy and Mako Vunipola all played as Sarries beat Championship table-toppers Ealing Trailfinders comfortably.

And their head coach reckons all will be in prime form to make Warren Gatland’s Lions squad on Thursday week having battled in the Championship — more competitive in his mind than the Pro14’s low-key Rainbow Cup.

Star-studded Saracanes beat Championship toppers Ealing Trailfinders comfortably 48-20

Captain Owen Farrell scored 23 points and Saracens went over for five tries in home victory

Captain Owen Farrell scored 23 points and Saracens went over for five tries in home victory

‘Our players are getting more rugby than the Welsh, Scottish and Irish,’ said McCall, whose players were labelled as undercooked by the RFU’s review into England’s Six Nations.

‘They’re hardly playing at all. Alun Wyn Jones didn’t play for the Ospreys on Saturday. We don’t worry about that.

‘These games are physical. Ealing are a mid-table Premiership side in my opinion. Our players won’t be undercooked in any way.

‘Look at the Scottish, Irish and Welsh players and see if they’re undercooked.’

Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Jamie George, Elliot Daly (pictured) and Billy and M. Vunipola played

Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Jamie George, Elliot Daly (pictured) and Billy and M. Vunipola played

There was a small scare for Billy Vunipola in the win, the No 8 going off after an hour with a rib injury, but McCall said: ‘I don’t think it is anything too major.’

Owen Farrell scored 23 points and Saracens went over for five tries to move third in the table, one point behind Doncaster with a game in hand, thrashing their likely playoff final opponents to ease fears they would fail in their promotion bid.

They are destined to meet Ealing again in the two-legged playoff final in June, and have laid down a marker.

Having lost their opening game to Cornish Pirates, Saracens are back on track after winning their five games since. ‘We have put it firmly back in our own hands,’ said McCall, who now will rotate his senior men with games against Nottingham, Ampthill, Coventry and Hartpury to come in the regular season.

Ealing came into this unbeaten having taken maximum points from their first six games — and had some early joy in the scrum, tight-head Elliot Millar-Mills getting the better of Mako Vunipola.

But in the first 25 minutes Ealing only took two Craig Willis penalties as Saracens scored through Alex Lewington and Vincent Koch.

Farrell hit three penalties either side of half-time in a dominant display at StoneX Stadium

Farrell hit three penalties either side of half-time in a dominant display at StoneX Stadium

Ealing then forced a penalty try and yellow card for Jackson Wray after a huge maul collapsed over the Saracens’ line.

Farrell hit three penalties either side of half-time. The lead became a gulf as Koch grabbed his second, Aled Davies ran in the bonus-point score and Nick Tompkins completed the rout with a fifth try.

After James Cordy Redden and Lewis Thiede were sin-binned, Ealing scored a late try through James Buckley, which David Johnston converted.

As talk of ring-fencing the Premiership intensifies, McCall thinks Ealing should be given a chance to go up in future.

‘If a club is good enough and have got the appetite and resources, which I think Ealing are and have, then they shouldn’t be deprived an opportunity to step up a league,’ McCall said.

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