'Wales players will take confidence from Lions draw'
The British and Irish Lions’ drawn series in New Zealand could help Wales beat the All Blacks for the first time since 1953, says hooker Ken Owens.
Five Welsh players started the Lions’ drawn final Test in Auckland on Saturday, while Owens was one of two more to come on as replacements.
The 30-year-old hopes Wales can use that experience when they host the All Blacks in Cardiff on 25 November.
“I think it will [help], going forward with Wales,” he said.
“A lot of players were key players in that victory and the draw, and I think we’ll take huge confidence from that going into the autumn series.
“Hopefully we’ll get that monkey off our backs with Wales.”
Sam Warburton captained the Lions in New Zealand, and compatriots Alun Wyn Jones, Taulupe Faletau, Jonathan Davies and Liam Williams joined him in the starting XVs for the second and third Tests.
Owens and scrum-half Rhys Webb each made two Test appearances from the bench.
Scarlets hooker Owens also captained the Lions in the midweek match against Super Rugby side the Blues.
Owens’ relief at third Test decision
Having lost the opening Test, the Lions levelled the series with victory in Wellington before a 15-15 draw in Auckland meant the series ended 1-1.
Owens’ overriding emotion was relief.
In the closing stages of the third Test, the Carmarthen-born hooker handled the ball ahead of Liam Williams after the full-back knocked on as he tried to claim a high kick.
Referee Romain Poite initially awarded a penalty in the tourists’ 22 before changing it to a scrum, thanks in part to an intervention from Warburton.
Asked what his abiding memory of the tour would be, Owens said that incident featured prominently.
“Captaining the Lions against the Blues was a huge moment for me,” he said.
“And Romain Poite getting the decision right in the third Test!
“That wouldn’t have been great. For my rugby career to be defined by that moment, I would’ve been pretty upset. I think the right decision was made.
“I’m just glad it didn’t come down to something like that to define the tour.
“There’s plenty of memories, I’ve made lifelong friends and I think it won’t quite sink in for months and years to come.”