Dan Biggar and Courtney Lawes could not hide their delight as the Northampton Saints duo were selected in the British & Irish Lions squad to tour South Africa.
Warren Gatland’s 37-strong touring party was named on Thursday, with versatile forward Lawes picked for his second Lions adventure, and fly-half Biggar becoming the 26th different Saint in history to represent the Home Nations.
This is the ninth occasion in the Club’s history that multiple Saints have been called onto the same tour, with Biggar and Lawes the 15th and 16th Saints to tour South Africa with the Lions (the first being Freddie Blakiston in 1924).
😲 “I’m speechless at the minute, just letting it settle in.”— Northampton Saints 😇 (@SaintsRugby) May 6, 2021
😅 “The worst part was we dropped the next couple of balls so I don’t think Boydy will be doing that again.”
Reaction from Courts and Biggs to their @lionsofficial call-up 🦁 pic.twitter.com/ka8kZzoXqA
Lawes, 32, admitted he thought his chance had gone begging after an injury-hit season, but the hard-hitting Saint was relieved that Gatland gave him the opportunity after impressing in two Lions Tests against the All Blacks in 2017.
“Nobody really knows if they are in the squad until it is announced, but we were out on the training pitch and Boydy got us huddled in, and told the group that Biggs and I were in the team,” he said.
“It was a special moment and I’m speechless because I got it in my head that I probably haven’t played enough to get in the squad, but I’m looking forward to proving why I’m in there.”Courtney Lawes
“I suppose one of the big things I’ve got going for me is that I’m not really like a lot of the blindsides or second rows out there, so with my physicality that probably gave me a little bit of an edge in the selection process.
“It’s amazing being a part of the Lions squad, there’s a great camaraderie. I don’t know what the situation is going to be with the fans this time, but in the previous Tour their passion for the Lions really did make it.
“I’m sure even if they can’t come now, they’ll throw their support behind us from afar, and that’s really what it’s all about.”
Biggar becomes the third-ever Northampton fly-half called up by the Lions, following Paul Grayson and current coach Gregor Townsend – who both toured the Rainbow Nation in 1997 – and, if selected for any of the three Test matches, would become the 17th Lions international from Saints.
Biggar said: “I’m really over the moon to be selected, and just really proud for myself and my family, but also very proud to represent this Club for the Lions.
“Saints has been brilliant for me and I feel like a I’ve become a better player since arriving here. To be recognised as a Lion while playing for Northampton is special.”Dan Biggar
“The way Boydy announced it to the group was a bit embarrassing as it was in the middle of training, and the worst thing was that we dropped the next couple of balls in the next couple of plays, so I don't think he will be doing that again!
“I’m still loving my time at Northampton. I feel like I am improving in every game and every training session, and Boydy and Sam Vesty in particular have been absolutely brilliant in terms of challenging my skills, giving me the confidence to showcase what I can bring.
“We’ve got a young group who are hungry, and that’s keeping me going as well at a little bit of an older age compared to the rest of the squad. Feeling young and just trying to keep up with the talent we’ve got has been brilliant.
“It’s really nice to enjoy the moment and celebrate the call, but we’ve got a huge six weeks coming up now. I’m trying to park everything else now and give everything I’ve got for Northampton, because there’s so much to play for here before the end of the season.”