Alun Wyn Jones’ illustrious CV will have a new heading this summer after Warren Gatland appointed the Wales legend as his Lions captain to tour South Africa.
Jones will lead a 37-man squad to face the reigning world champions and hopes to add to his world-record 157 Test caps.
Jones captained Wales to the 2021 Guinness Six Nations title and has won the Championship in three different decades after collecting his first winners’ medal in 2008.
Gatland was his head coach then and will be again this summer, with the towering lock admitting he can’t wait to get going.
“It is a huge privilege to be selected in the squad initially. That is what you want to hear first as a player,” said Jones.
“To have the armband is a privilege just when you look who has gone before and what they have achieved in this jersey and for their respective home nations.
“I had a call from Gats (Warren Gatland) on Sunday evening, well, a missed call actually! I thought I had better give him a call back! We had a quick chat and I accepted obviously, and we now find ourselves here today.
“Initially the draw is to get into the squad, then anything can happen from there and you have your hat in the mix to be selected.
“Obviously having the armband is a huge privilege but initially it was all about the squad selection and I have a huge amount of pride to add this to the CV but there is a lot of work to do and some huge games to face.”
This summer will be Jones’ fourth Lions Tour and his second to South Africa after he also featured in the 2009 series.
The 35-year-old replaced Sam Warburton as captain in the third and decisive Test against Australia eight years ago, a match the Lions won to clinch a first series win for 16 years, while he also played in all three Tests against New Zealand four years ago.
“I think the word that was definitely used in last couple of tours I have been on is custodianship,” he said.
“Once you become a Lion you might not see people for a while or interact, but you are all connected through the jersey across the home nations and that is something very, very special.
“It is hard to explain but I like to think it is something that hasn’t changed from the amateur era through to professionalism.
“Growing up you want to play for your country and dream about playing for the Lions.
“This is something I’m hugely proud of and passionate about. It is a huge thank you to my wife, my sister and my mum, for all their support through all the tough times and particularly the good times.”