The prospect of the British & Irish Lions spending time in bio-secure COVID-19 bubbles on their South Africa tour has already helped forge a “siege mentality”, says skipper Alun Wyn Jones.
The Lions are set for an eight-match tour, including three tests against world champions South Africa, from July 3 to Aug. 7 under strict coronavirus protocols.
Supporters are not allowed to travel for what is likely to be a challenging tour.
“In many ways, because the bubble is as such and will be going forward, it has let us develop a siege mentality from the start,” Jones told British media on Friday.
“Not against any rugby teams – but against the threats to the tour as a whole.
“The fact that we’re spending more time together, there may be a bit of cabin fever,” he said. “But hopefully the most positive side effect will be performance and we’re all relishing that.”
South Africa, who have not played since beating England in the World Cup final in 2019, will warm up for the series with tests against Georgia.
Jones, the game’s most capped player with 157 test appearances, including 148 for Wales, is preparing for his fourth tour with the Lions.
He played key roles in 2009, 2013 and 2017 and knows what it takes to succeed but expects this year’s tour to be different.
“It’s the first one in a global pandemic with all the challenges off the field,” he said.
“In many ways we’re going to have a constant challenge off the field, but when we go on to the pitch that’s the opportunity to express ourselves. That isn’t going to be wasted.”
The Lions face Japan at Murrayfield on Saturday in preparation for the tour.