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Lions get down to work in Jersey

Ken Owens (centre right) scrums down with the British & Irish Lions in Jersey. Credit: INPHO

Lions get down to work in Jersey

The British & Irish Lions have got down to work in Jersey this week ahead of their summer tour of South Africa.

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And Wales and Scarlets hooker Ken Owens believes the fact the trip will be like no previous excursion can pull Warren Gatland’s side even tighter together ahead of taking on the Springboks.

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic means the Lions will stay in secure bubbles for the next two months to ensure they are protected from coronavirus.

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Gatland’s squad will stay in single rooms rather than doubles and spend almost all of their time away from playing and training in their team hotel.

Owens, who will tour with the Lions for the second time, said: “We are lucky in some ways because we are in a bubble and we’re very tight together.

“It’s easier to get those social connections going because you don’t have people drifting off here, there and everywhere. We are restricted to what we can do.

“Obviously we are not sharing rooms so we do tend to spend a lot more time around the team room because you don’t want to be isolated.

“So, in some ways, being in a bubble is a strength, not a weakness. We’re forced to spend a lot more time together.”

Liam Williams and Gareth Davies train with the British & Irish Lions in Jersey. Credit: INPHO

In some ways being in a bubble is a strength, not a weakness. We’re forced to spend a lot more time together

The Lions are training in Jersey this week without their players from Saracens, Exeter and Bristol who are still involved in end-of-season play-off games.

The team face Japan in Edinburgh in their first game – a warm-up clash before they head to South Africa – a week on Saturday.

As he did in New Zealand in 2017, Owens will lead the Lions in their traditional choir practice – another form of bonding for players new to each other.

“It is not just the players, but the backroom staff and the management here on tour and getting everyone together,” Owens said.

“Singing, generally, does that. It is all about having fun and a laugh.”

Owens is one of three hookers in the Lions squad with Jamie George and Luke Cowan-Dickie although the two Englishmen are still on club duty right now.

Head coach Gatland has called up Leinster’s Ronan Kelleher to train although he is not an official part of the squad.

“The talent of hookers on the tour is incredible,” said Owens.

“The competition is there. It is the norm. It happened four years ago. Being in early just gives you that little bit of a head start in learning and getting ahead of the curve.

“The boys coming in will get their opportunity and I am sure they will be up to speed pretty soon.”

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