Adam Jones hungry for second Lions chance
HIS last tour with the Lions ended in acute pain, a major operation and a six-month lay-off from rugby, but Adam Jones has entered 2013 wanting more.
Not the pain and stuff, obviously.
But the career-defining experience of being part of the world's most celebrated touring side left such a mark on Jones that he puts making the trip to Australia this summer among his top rugby goals over the next 12 months.
The dislocated shoulder suffered in Pretoria in the second Test against South Africa in 2009, after a brutal ruck clean-out from Bakkies Botha, has long since been put in context.
Rugby is a physical sport and injuries happen. Jones suffered a bad one at Loftus Versfeld, but he had previously provided one of the great Lions moments by shoving the much-hyped Tendai 'The Beast' Mtawarira skywards at a scrum five metres from the tourists' line, a week after the Springbok prop had destroyed Phil Vickery.
The tour showed the world that Jones was the world-class prop his admirers had long thought he could be.
It confirmed him as a player of stature, who had shown he could take his place on the big stage and make a game-changing impact. Who wouldn't want more of that?
"If I can get on the Lions tour this summer it would be brilliant," said Jones. "I really enjoyed the last one, despite the injury.
"I wasn't expecting it to be like it was. The boys who went in 2005 didn't have fond memories, but the way it was organised in South Africa was great. It was good off the pitch and the rugby was really professional as well with the likes of Geech (Ian McGeechan), Gats (Warren Gatland), Howlers (Rob Howley) and Shaun (Edwards) running things.
"It was special to be involved and if I can make this one it would mean a lot."
Jones added: "It should be a great series.
"Australia always make it difficult for the teams they play. People were saying England and Wales would beat them in the autumn, but the Wallabies are a hell of a tough team and they won both those Tests.
"If the Lions are to win down there, they'll have to play really well."
A tour with the best of British and Irish rugby isn't the only thing on Jones's wish list for the next 12 months.
There's also Wales and the Ospreys to consider.
He has already been part of three Grand Slams with the national team and four league titles with the region. But success is addictive: once tasted, the need is always for more.
"If Wales can go well in the Six Nations again, that would be nice, not just for me and the other boys but for the whole country," said Jones.
"We've had a lot of stick over the past few weeks and months, but there's a lot of talent in the national squad and if we have luck with injuries there's no reason why we can't give a good account of ourselves again.
"The other big goal, up there with the Lions and Wales, is to have more success with the Ospreys.
"The region are my bread and butter, the side I play with every week, and if we can beat Leicester and Treviso it might just get us somewhere in Europe.
"There's also the Pro12. We enjoyed that last season, so why not have another crack at winning it?"
With Jones fit and healthy, most things are possible.
Sidelined by a knee injury earlier in the season, he worked hard to get back ahead of schedule, his recovery programme including regular stints to Merthyr Mawr sand dunes, where the sessions would see the big man training with kettle bells.
A tight-head who presided over the demolition of Toulouse's scrum before Christmas, he has long been considered the most indispensable Welsh player of his generation and is fast approaching the stage where he is rated as Wales's greatest ever No. 3, if he has not already achieved that status.
He will have more time on his hands in the 12 months ahead, having just completed his testimonial year.
"It's been good," he said.
"I owe a huge debt to my wife, my testimonial committee and everyone who has come out to support me.
"People have been brilliant and I want to thank them.
"It's been humbling to turn up at a dinner and have 400 people there supporting you. I guess it shows people like you and that means a huge amount.
"I've come out of my comfort zone. I was really nervous making a speech when I launched things last January, but the more you do stuff like that the more confident you become.
"Now I'm just looking forward to the next 12 months."
For the 31-year-old prop, a huge year beckons.