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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 July, 2005, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
Jones boosted by Lions experience
Ryan Jones
The All Blacks have been less than impressed with the 2005 Lions' efforts on the field after the best of Britain and Ireland lost the Test series 3-0.

But one player who departs New Zealand with his reputation enhanced is Wales number eight Ryan Jones.

The Osprey, 24, arrived on tour as a late replacement but leaves as one of British rugby's most exciting talents.

"I am just so happy I have taken the opportunity - I could have so easily played no part," Jones said.

"I could have gone into my shell, but I know in my heart of hearts I've given it everything I could have."

Jones missed out on coach Sir Clive Woodward's original 45-man squad but was summoned as replacement for injured Scot Simon Taylor.

Like fellow back-row replacement Simon Easterby, the Ireland and Llanelli Scarlets flanker who replaced Lawrence Dallaglio, Jones grabbed his opportunity with both hands.

Even though the Lions were whitewashed in the Tests, and also lost to New Zealand Maori, the Welshman has thoroughly enjoyed his time on tour.

It has given me an insight into what is required to become world class
Ryan Jones

His belated Lions call-up capped a year that saw him break into Mike Ruddock's Wales squad, win a Six Nations Grand Slam and land the Celtic League title with the Ospreys.

"It has been fantastic - I keep looking back with a smile on my face," said Jones.

"People like Jonny Wilkinson are guys I have been brought up trying to emulate, so it has been fantastic to be part of it on and off the pitch.

"It has given me an insight into what is required to become world class.

"The ball is in my court now, so to speak. I came out here with no experience, and it has been a real sharp learning curve for me."

Jones wasted little time impressing the Lions coaching staff, arriving from Wales' successful North America tour and immediately displaying an appetite for more hard work during the longest season of his career.

"Like anyone else here, I've had a fear of under-performing. I didn't want to let anyone down, myself, my family or anyone who has ever invested time and effort in me," he added.

"But the biggest thing I've learnt is that everyone is different, so whatever works for you is okay.

"You haven't got to try and prepare like someone else, you prepare your way and if it works, it's fine, carry on doing that."

Even though the Lions failed to beat New Zealand, Jones knows he has another crack at the All Blacks when they come to Cardiff on 5 November.

"I am supposed to be having four weeks off when we go home. I am going to buy a jetski, it's the one thing I have always wanted since I was a kid, and take it down the Gower coast," he said.

"The break will just give me an opportunity to sit back and reflect, because after the Six Nations win, we won the Celtic League with the Ospreys, then it was on tour with Wales and now out here.

"It has just been a whirlwind. Maybe when the dust settles, I can sit back and realise the magnitude of everything that has gone on.

"I will sit down with a beer somewhere - and have a big smile on my face."



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