'Whole of Wales can be enormously proud of Alun Wyn'
THE Ospreys have rallied behind their captain Alun Wyn Jones as he prepares to lead the British & Irish Lions into their momentous Test series decider against Australia.
Wales lock Jones was named Lions skipper for today's do-or-die showdown in Sydney following an injury to his international team-mate Sam Warburton.
Jones, who has captained the Ospreys for the last three seasons, could become the first man to lead the Lions to a series victory since Martin Johnson did so in South Africa 16 years ago.
And as the 27-year-old braces himself for a career-defining clash against the Wallabies, the Swansea man has been given a ringing endorsement by his home region.
"To captain the Lions is an enormous honour," said an Ospreys spokesman.
"We're hugely proud of all our Lions players. It's a great honour for them, their families and their clubs.
"The whole of Swansea can be enormously proud of Alun Wyn."
To commemorate the occasion, the Ospreys have commissioned a special cartoon of Jones. One copy has been emailed to the player himself, while another will adorn one of the walls of the region's Llandarcy clubhouse.
Meanwhile, assistant Lions coach Graham Rowntree has admitted he is "fed up" over a barren run which has seen the tourists fail to win a series for 16 years.
The Lions and Australia stand 1-1 after two games and are separated by one point and one try following nerve-shredding encounters in Brisbane and Melbourne.
Attention now switches to Sydney's 84,000-capacity ANZ Stadium for a final showdown that has drama and tension written all over it.
The Lions last clinched a Test series in 1997, beating South Africa 2-1, and they know pressure is intense for them to end that painful wait.
"You can talk about four years ago, eight years ago, 12 years ago. It has been 16 years since we have had something like this," Rowntree said.
"Lads like (prop) Alex Corbisiero know the history of the Lions, know the magnitude of pulling on the jersey and know about the statistics. We are all fed up with the 16 years stat.
"A win will deliver the series for the here and now. I am not too sure about the Lions' future, it's what we are desperate for now.
"Seeing how we've trained all week, crikey, we are ready for this battle.
"We saw the reaction from Australia (last weekend) after they beat us. Their captain James Horwill was crying. They threw everything at us and beat us by a point. We didn't get our game going, and we know that.
"There is loads more to come from us and the guys are desperate to win. This is grand final rugby, the last throw of the dice with everything to play for.
"We have to give it everything. This is the biggest game of our lives, as players and coaches."