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Page last updated at 06:53 GMT, Friday, 19 June 2009 07:53 UK

Jones relishing Boks' lock test

Venue: King's Park, Durban
Date: Saturday, 20 June Kick-off: 1400 BST (1500 local time)
Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru and online. Also live on Sky Sports. Rugby Union on the BBC

Alun Wyn Jones
Lions lock Alun Wyn Jones is touted as a future Wales captain

Alun Wyn Jones cannot wait to go head-to-head with world rugby's best second row partnership in Durban - a double-act he has nicknamed 'sweet and sour'.

Welshman Jones and Lions captain Paul O'Connell must be at their best to tame South Africa's "formidable" lock pair Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha.

"Nothing derogatory is meant by sweet and sour," insisted Jones. "They've got my utmost respect and will be a test.

"Over their physicality and finesse, they do the basics right."

Jones has never played in a team that has beaten the Springboks, but feels that elusive win may be just round the corner.

"In the second Test with Wales last summer and in the autumn we pushed them close," said Ospreys lock Jones.

"No W [win] but it bodes well coming out here for the first Test."

Jones may be only just 23 years old but his maturity and leadership qualities have not gone unnoticed by the Lions management team ahead of Saturday's first Test with the world champions at ABSA Park.

So much so that Lions head coach Ian McGeechan named the 31-times capped Welsh international - a man touted as the national team's future captain - to partner Irish skipper O'Connell over Nathan Hines, Simon Shaw and Donncha O'Callaghan.

Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield
Nothing derogatory is meant by 'sweet and sour'. Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield have got my utmost respect

Lions lock Alun Wyn Jones

"We had four locks playing for one position effectively," Jones told BBC Sport.

"It has been quite tight and it would have been easier for me to play at number 10!"

The Ospreys star and trainee lawyer was careful not to celebrate his Lions call too vociferously, as he considered the feelings of his squad-mates who did not make Lions selection to face the Springboks.

"I think there's a little bit of pressure from within to do right for the people who haven't made it," said Jones.

"But I must also grab the opportunity to get the start again in the second Test and unless you perform in the first Test, you won't get selected again - and rightly so.

"I've been selected over some great players for this game but whether I am starting for the next game is down to me and my own performance in Durban."

Jones has spoken of his admiration for the South African locks Matfield and Botha, but McGeechan is backing his second-row duo to do the business against the Springboks.

Critics have said both O'Connell and Jones are too similar and highlighted a potential issue at the lineout.

But Jones said: "I played with Paul against the Sharks and we had a pretty decent win.

"And now I'm ready to follow him into the depths of 'Bokland' on Saturday."

Welsh Grand Slam-winner Jones is joined in the first starting Lions Test team on this tour by six fellow countryman, with three more on the bench.


Prop Gethin Jenkins, fly-half Stephen Jones, scrum-half Mike Phillips, centre Jamie Roberts and full-back Lee Byrne join Jones in the starting XV.

And Jenkins hopes the Lions can "run South Africa off the park", in the only Test at sea level before the tourists visit Pretoria and Johannesburg at altitude on the high veldt.

"The first Test is the only one at sea level and will be in conditions we're used to," said Jenkins.

"Hopefully we can run them off the park as much as we can but it will a big challenge as the second and third Test will be even tougher.

"It will be a physical game, we've seen everything they do at the breakdown and at set-pieces but we've been working hard to impose ourselves on them.

"We've played a lot of warm-up games against regional sides but moving to Test level is a big step up.

"The games for Wales are tough but this will be another level, the intensity is raised and we will have to be at our best to get a result."

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