Try, try, try, try again: Lions winger in rampant form as tourists thrash Sigma Lions 56-14 on first outing in South Africa
Josh Adams insists he never stopped believing when his Lions selection was thrown into doubt by a Covid ban.
Five months to the day since being handed a two-game ban by Wales for attending a family gathering, the winger helped himself to four tries.
It is the biggest haul by a Lion for 16 years, since Shane Williams bagged five against New Zealand side Manawatu.
It took to five his try tally in the first two matches and makes the former Worcester star a short-price bet to wear the number 11 Test jersey.
Contrast the outlook today with the first week in February when he was stood down from the Six Nations for hosting a gender reveal party.
At the time Wales were in a slump and Adams’ Lions hopes were disappearing over the horizon.
“You have to believe,” said the 26-year old, who scored tries in each of the last three rounds as the resurgent Dragons were crowned champions.
“If you lose that it can easily slip away. Missing the two games didn’t help, of course it didn’t, but you’ve got to keep your focus, keep your head down and take every chance you get.
“I had great support round me, I was always kept in the loop; I just had to work hard when I came back. We went well as a team and that certainly helped.”
Adams’ response leapfrogged him over wing rivals Jonny May and Keith Earls in the pecking order and he is now back to the form that made him top try scorer at the 2019 World Cup.
“To get four tries is pretty special,” said head coach Warren Gatland. “Josh knows where the try line is and you can’t ignore what he’s achieved as a player.”
Adams’ four-timer at Ellis Park came in just 31 second half minutes, evoking memories of Williams’ ‘fifer’ on the 2005 tour and, four years before that, Jason Robinson’s five on his debut in Australia.
He said it was his way of repaying fiancée Georgia and family for their support in enabling him to tour and miss the birth of his baby.
“Everything I’m doing out here, all the hard work I am putting in, is all for them back home,” he added.
Gatland’s thoughts have quickly turned to Wednesday’s game against the Sharks.
He remains open-minded about Test selection, wanting to give every player a chance before drawing any conclusions.
But he will have circled the contributions made by Adams, Hamish Watson, Finn Russell and Owen Farrell, who landed all eight of his kicks at goal to pass 100 career points for the Lions.
Noted, too, the speed with which Louis Rees-Zammit, 20, became the youngest Lions try scorer since Keith Jarrett 1968 – just 203 seconds.
However, it only gets tougher from here and Gatland will want games of greater physical intensity to battle harden his Lions for the ferocity they can expect from the world champions.
SIGMA LIONS – Tries: Tshituka, Maxwane. Cons: Hendrikse 2
B&I LIONS – Tries: Rees-Zammit, H Watson, Price, Adams 4. Cons: Farrell 8.