Saracens prop Matt Stevens might have been a surprise inclusion in Warren Gatland’s 37-man British & Irish Lions squad, but he’s not travelling to Australia to make up the numbers.
The 30-year-old was part of the touring party that lost 3-0 to New Zealand back in 2005, featuring in six games but none of the test matches against the All Blacks.
Despite earning his last of 44-caps for England back in August 2012, the former Bath tighthead has impressed at the Allianz Arena this season, and is travelling Down Under with the aim of challenging Adam Jones and Dan Cole for the number three jersey.
"I have a lot of respect for Adam, I have played against him for the last 10 years. He is a superb player and he has a lot of good things most props want,” said Stevens, according to The Independent.
"He has a lot to his game, I respect him and he is a good bloke which is half the battle in rugby. But, of course, I am not going out there to me up the numbers, we are all competitive animals otherwise we wouldn't be here. We all want to be starting and that can only be good for the tour in the long term."
Stevens insists that the Lions call-up won’t bring him out of international retirement with the red rose however, with the veteran admitting he’s benefited for playing week in, week out with Sarries.
"I am not thinking about that, it is just about this tour and I am relishing every minute of it. Any international player when they retire has second thoughts and it was the most difficult rugby decision I have ever made,” he added.
"But it was the right choice at the time, obviously it has given me the chance to play week in, week out for Saracens and has got me in contention for this trip.
"It has been difficult but I didn't retire because I didn't think I was good enough, I retired because there were other things I needed to sort out to get back playing for Saracens.
"I had just come back from injury and it wasn't fair on me playing a bit part for Stuart (Lancaster) when I thought I wasn't going to be there for the World Cup in 2015."
The Lions begin their tour with a match against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on June 1st, whilst the first test match takes place on June 22nd in Brisbane.
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