British & Irish Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones said his players know personnel changes are coming for the decisive final Test against South Africa this Saturday but that unity of purpose remains key to success against the Springboks.
Jones gathered his players on the pitch at Cape Town Stadium last Saturday night following a chastening second half which the world champions dominated with two tries as they outclassed the Lions at the set-piece, breakdown and in the air to keep the tourists scoreless in the final 40 minutes and win 27-9.
That kept the series alive going into the third Test in six days' time and the Lions tour captain used his post-match huddle to steel themselves for a huge week ahead on the training field and a nerve-wracking wait for Warren Gatland to reveal his matchday squad.
“There was a lot of eye contact and you could feel the fact that everyone is well aware that Gats will make changes,” Jones said of the mood in that huddle. “There will probably be an opportunity for some and I have a feeling that people want to put it right. I could definitely feel that.
“In the immediate, we have got to get up and stay together. It's still a squad effort. Gats is notorious for making changes and we go again.
“There has been a lot said about a wounded Springbok, but I think the Lions have taken a dent today and we need to put it right.”
Jones is leading the Lions at the age of 36 and started the first Test just 28 days after dislocating his shoulder against Japan in Murrayfield in the Lions’ pre-tour game. His rapid recovery allowed him to make his fourth Lions tour having played two Tests off the bench against South Africa in the 2009 series defeat. This Saturday’s series decider will be his 12th consecutive Lions Test and the third tour in a row after Australia in 2013 and New Zealand four years ago that the rivalry has gone to the wire at 1-1 with a game to play.
"They are big weeks. People ask about comparisons with previous tours. You can't compare different weeks, different opposition. It will be interesting to see what Gats does with the team but definitely, it’s going to be a big week."