Jack Nowell

The players will fight to keep B&I Lions tours alive roars Jack Nowell

Jack Nowell insists the ‘old school’ ethos of the British & Irish Lions will survive no matter what obstacles hard-nosed administrators throw in their way.

Premiership Rugby have been heavily criticised for refusing to bring forward their 2021 grand final by a week to ensure the Lions have extra preparation time.

Instead, Warren Gatland’s tourists will have just six days between the Premiership final and their opening tour match against the Stormers in Cape Town.

An already truncated tour is in danger of becoming a washout. However, Nowell, a popular tourist on the 2017 trip to New Zealand, told The Rugby Paper: “I don’t think that will be the case. No matter what the tour or the length of it, it’ll still be the same.

“It’s proper old school and no matter what gets chucked at you, preparation time, shorter tour or anything like that, the players will still ensure it’s good.”

Nowell will hope a better 2020 can put him in the frame for the Lions after a disappointing World Cup in which injury saw him play just once for England, against Argentina.

The Exeter wing said: “There were lots of emotions – angry, upset, frustrated – but I did everything I could with the physios and coaches to be ready to play.

“Unfortunately for me, sometimes rugby doesn’t go your way and my body wasn’t letting me do it, but I was privileged to go away with the team still.

“I only got ten minutes against Argentina but to be among the boys, with the aspirations we had to win the World Cup was massive.”

Nowell will hope to feature in the Six Nations but with few highlights for him to reflect on in 2019, winning silverware with Exeter is his overwhelming priority.

Chiefs are currently well placed in both the Premiership and Champions Cup and Nowell said: “The big thing that drives me is being in finals for this club.

“Being involved with England is massive, but none of that will come unless Chiefs are playing in big games and I’m performing well for my team.

“While it’s a great honour to play World Cup and Six Nations, it means a lot more to be playing with guys you’ve grown up with.

“Where we are at the moment in the Heineken Cup is massive and it’s not just about getting out of our group, we want to get to semi-finals and finals.

“Being in Premiership finals over the last two or three years has been a highlight and if we don’t get there again in future it will be very disappointing.”

As for the Lions in 2021, Nowell adds: “I spoke to Warren Gatland last time and he watches a lot of club rugby.

“I keep it simple: I play well for my club, I represent my country, if I play well for them, I might get a Lions spot.”

NEALE HARVEY

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