What makes a great Lions tourist?
In what has been one of the most unique British & Irish Lions tours ever, having a tight-knit squad was fundamental this year with the players spending the entire time in each other’s company, usually cooped within their hotel.
So Mako Vunipola and Ken Owens were asked by Bobby Stridgeon on the final episode of Inside the Bubble what makes a great Lions tourist. Vunipola has just completed his third Lions tour, while Owens has been on two, so they will know by now what makes a good tourist. Both played in all three Tests this year as well, so they know how crucial the other tourists are to the playing squad.
“You obviously need to be a decent rugby player to be a good Lions tourist, that helps,” the England loosehead said.
“I think being a good bloke and a good teammate. A good bloke, as in it doesn’t matter what you do on the field, it’s how you are off the field. Are you easy to get on with? That’s massive. But be a good teammate as well, there’s going to be ups and downs, you’re going to be disappointed but being there to support your mates who are playing is a big thing.”
“I think that’s a big one,” Owens said in agreement with Vunipola.
“We’ve seen on this tour everybody’s come together and I think all the boys here are generally first choice in their position for their countries so it’s slightly different to not being selected. It’s how you react to it. The boys over the last three weeks especially, since the Test teams were announced, the non 23 boys have been absolutely phenomenal in the way they’ve trained and prepared the boys and I think that’s probably the biggest thing about being a Lions tourist, it’s what you bring to the environment off the field as much as on it. How you’re willing to prepare the guys and do what’s best for the team and I think we’ve got a massive squad of boys who have done that all the way through the tour. Whatever’s asked of them, they’ve done it and I think that’s a big part of being a successful Lion.”