Rugby-Wales lock Jones named Lions captain for South Africa tour

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(Reuters) - Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones, the most capped international rugby player in history, will skipper the British & Irish Lions on their tour of South Africa this year, the team announced on Thursday.

The 35-year-old, who has 157 test appearances, including 148 for Wales, will lead the side during his fourth tour with the Lions after playing key roles in 2009, 2013 and 2017.

"I'm very proud to be named captain," Jones said. "To be selected in the squad is initially where you want to be, but to have the armband as well is a privilege.

"As a rugby player you want to be involved in the matches you see as a child growing up. To play in these games is a huge honour."

Jones, who has featured in each of the last nine Lions test matches, guided Wales to the Six Nations title in March to emerge as the top contender to lead the touring side.

He takes over from compatriot Sam Warburton, who was Lions captain for the 2013 tour to Australia and the 2017 visit to New Zealand. Warburton retired in 2018 due to a neck injury.

The Lions are set for an eight-match tour, including three tests against world champions South Africa, from July 3-Aug. 7 under strict COVID-19 protocols.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru and Nick Said in Cape Town; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Toby Davis)