The prospect of the British and Irish Lions spending time in biosafe Covid-19 bubbles on their South Africa tour has already helped forge a “siege mentality,” says skipper Alun Wyn Jones.
The Lions are prepared for an eight-game tour, including three tests against world champions South Africa, under strict coronavirus protocols and with no traveling supporters.
“Because the bubble is like this and will continue to do so, in many ways we developed a siege mentality from the start,” said Jones.
“Not against any rugby teams – but against the threats to the tour as a whole.
“The fact that we spend more time together can be a bit of a cabin bug,” he said. “But hopefully the most positive side effect will be the performance and we all enjoy that.”
South Africa, which hasn’t played since beating England in the 2019 World Cup final, will warm up for the series with tests against Georgia.
Jones, with 157 test appearances, including 148 for Wales, the highest cap player in the game, is preparing for his fourth tour with the Lions.
He played key roles in 2009, 2013 and 2017 and knows what it takes to be successful but expects this year’s tour to be different.
“It’s the first in a global pandemic with all of the challenges outside of the field,” he said.
“In many ways we will have a constant challenge off the field, but when we go on the field that is the opportunity to express ourselves. It will not be wasted.”
The Lions face Japan today in Murrayfield, with all seven Irish players selected for the tour making the starting XI.