Ryan Jones was left pinching himself last night as he prepared to take part in his first training session with the Lions.
Jones arrived in Christchurch on Sunday after being called up as cover for the injured Scottish No.8 Simon Taylor, who has since been ruled out of the rest of the tour. For the Ospreys flanker / No.8, his late inclusion in the Lions party rounds off the most incredible year of his life.
Having kicked off last summer out of work after the Warriors folded, Jones was then snapped up by the Ospreys. Ten months later he finds himself in a Lions squad having won the Celtic League with his region and the RBS Six Nations, Triple Crown and Grand Slam with Wales.
"I find it difficult to stop smiling," said Jones. "It has been an amazing year with the Ospreys and Wales and this just rounds it off. I am still wondering when it will all sink in, but for the time being I am just trying to concentrate on helping the Lions out here."
Jones was due to play for Wales against Canada in Toronto on Saturday night, but was withdrawn from that game and popped on an eighteen hour flight to Auckland when the call came.
"It came right out of the blue, but it was a great feeling when Alan Phillips told me the news," added Jones. "I managed to watch a re-run of the Wales game on television here yesterday morning and I was delighted for the boys that they finished off the tour in such style. Let's hope the Lions can do the same by winning the series out here."
Jones has no idea when he will get his chance, but it seems likely that he will play some part in next week's game against Southland in Invercargill.
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.