Adam Jones has pretty much done it all during his glittering rugby career.
He’s been there, done it, got the T-shirt.
But nothing quite compared with touring South Africa with the British and Irish Lions.
As such, he is well qualified to comment on what lies in store for Warren Gatland’s squad this summer.
Jones was part of the Test team for the 2009 series against the Springboks, a campaign which was cut short for him by a dislocated shoulder.
That was courtesy of an illegal ruck clear-out from the giant Bakkies Botha during the brutal second Test in Pretoria.
Twelve years on, the memories of that trip remain vivid for the legendary Wales tight-head prop.
“If you are playing for the Lions against New Zealand or South Africa, especially if you are Welsh, you’ve kind of had that rammed into you for the last 40 years about the 1971 tour, the 1974 tour,” Jones explains.
“There’s a lot of history involved.
“And then, obviously, you had the ‘Living with Lions’ video from 1997 in South Africa.
“Everyone watched it, so you have such a behind-the-scenes feel about what a tour out there would be like and how intense it is.
“South Africa is a different level to what I experienced anywhere else.
“You have got 70,000 people in Loftus Versfeld.
“You are driving in and the bus is being spat at and stuff being thrown at the bus. It’s very different to Twickenham!
“You just know then you are going to face exactly the same thing on the pitch.
“You have got Botha, you have got Schalk Burger, Bismarck du Plessis, all these type of guys ready to rip your face off.
“Physicality-wise, it’s up there. They are different sort of physical to New Zealand.”
Having come off the bench to stabilise the Lions scrum in the opening Test in Durban, Jones was then selected to start the re-match at Pretoria’s Loftus Versfeld.
He got on top of Tendai ‘The Beast’ Mtawarira in the scrum, providing the platform which helped the men in strawberry red build a 16-8 lead.
But then, on 45 minutes, he suffered his tour-ending injury when Botha charged into him at a ruck, an offence which went unpunished at the time but later saw the ‘Bok lock banned for two weeks for dangerous play.
The Lions also lost fellow Welsh prop Gethin Jenkins in the same passage of play and went to suffer a 28-25 defeat as the hosts took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.
“I hadn’t really watched the game for years,” said Jones.
“But then I watched it back during the first lockdown. It went from goosepimples when we won the scrum penalty to about 20 minutes later thinking perhaps I should have been a bit more urgent in that ruck so I didn’t get cleaned out.
“It was a classic case of me having a little rest at the side of the ruck, minding my own business.
“But I didn’t account for a big giant 6ft 6ins, 19st South African flying into me and breaking my shoulder.
“Jonathan Humphreys told me it was the best thing that happened to me, going off like that because everyone would remember the scrum.
“You get injured and then you can’t have a bad scrum after that.
“He said getting injured in that Test series was the best thing that ever happened to me.
“I didn’t think it at the time!”
Jones went on to start all three Tests during the Lions’ series victory over Australia in 2013 and looks back on his two trips as a real career highlight.
“As a player, the Lions is the biggest thing you can do,” he said.
“Obviously winning the World Cup with your country would be amazing.
“But there’s a certain sort of mystique around the Lions. It’s a great honour.
“It will be a tough tour for the boys, with the restrictions and no travelling fans.
“But you are still playing for the Lions and it’s the biggest thing you can do as a British and Irish player.”
Jones hung up his boots in 2018, having won 100 caps in all – 95 for Wales and five for the Lions.
But he remains very much involved in the game as Harlequins’ scrum coach, having initially taken on a playing-coaching role with the club after joining them in 2015.
Things are going well, with fourth-placed ‘Quins having booked a place in the Gallagher Premiership play-offs with two games to spare.
So how is the 40-year-old enjoying the job and how does it compare to playing?
“Because you have got the build-up in the week and the planning and the prep that goes into the match-day on the weekend, you still get that buzz,” he says.
“It’s different. It’s a little bit more stressful than playing, definitely.
“I am quite lucky that I had a transition into it as a player-coach, because I think I would have struggled without it in terms of the weekly involvement and the match day.
“It is more stressful because you can’t do anything about it yourself. You are reliant on other people.
“But it’s four or five years now, so it’s pretty good.”
He continues: “I am still learning as a coach, massively so.
“I think I learnt early on you’ve kind of got to realise your ideas aren’t all correct.
“You are not right all the time. I am happy to go along with things.
“There is always stuff to learn, things like presentations.
“I am up here, I’ve got a pretty strong Welsh accent, I talk pretty quickly and I mumble a little bit.
“It’s trying to calm it all down a bit, especially when you get a bit excited when you want to put your point across.
“It’s trying to calm yourself down and not speak so quickly.
“So there’s always learning.
“Rugby changes every month, certainly every season, so you have always got to learn on the job.”
Some aspects of the role have been eye-opening for the former Ospreys front row forward.
“There’s a lot more man management involved than I thought there would be,” he said.
“When you are a player, you don’t really realise what goes on behind the scenes.
“You’ve got 40-50 players and everyone wants to play and everyone is different.
“So you have kind of got to juggle things.
“Our club is great like that. We all kind of have our own individual areas, front row being mine obviously.
“When I used to play, if Gats ever came up to me and said I was looking fit, that would kind of give me a lift.
“You would see what he was like with Mike Phillips and these guys. So you would know how these top managers, top coaches work to get the best out of players.
“It’s a lot tougher than playing, although obviously you don’t have to keep your body in as good shape.”
So how is the body?
“It’s alright,” he replies with a grin.
“I’m not as broken as I thought it would be.
“It’s a bit stiff here and there, but I was very durable as a player, wasn’t I?”
Spirits are clearly high in the Quins camp, with last Saturday’s 44-33 win over Bath at The Stoop having secured a place in the semi-finals, alongside Bristol, Exeter and Sale.
“The mood is pretty good. It’s a fun time to be involved,” said Jones.
“I’m sure we didn’t see this happening in January, but now it’s happening and it’s nice to be in the play-offs with two games to go.
“We have never played in the semi-final before, but I am sure the other teams will be looking at us and thinking they don’t want to be playing Quins because we can score from anywhere and do these things that most other teams can’t do.
“I think it was the games against Exeter and Bristol where we realised we could compete against these teams.
“The boys put a lot of pressure on themselves to get to the semi-finals, so we can go against them again.
“The higher you go in rugby, you always want to test yourself against the best teams. We are looking forward to it.
“I can’t see us being overawed by the occasion when it comes down to the semis.”
But first there is the regular season to conclude, with a trip to Sale on the agenda for Friday night.
“Fronting up to those guys is the big focus now,” said Jones.
But then fronting up is something the man from Abercrave has done all his rugby life.