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Hibbard hails inspirational skipper

By Ospreys Rugby | 05/07/2013

Richard Hibbard says Alun Wyn Jones will prove to be an inspirational leader when the British & Irish Lions take on the Wallabies in Sydney on Saturday

Jones will skipper the Lions for the first time in the series decider at ANZ Stadium after squad captain Sam Warburton was ruled out earlier this week with a hamstring problem.

And Hibbard, who knows the giant second row better than most have played alongside him at the Ospreys for eight years, is convinced he is the right man to guide the Lions to glory.

"Alun-Wyn is inspiring, on and off the field. He is a true professional. They don't get much better than him," said Hibbard, who also regularly packs down with Jones on the international scene with Wales.

"On the field, he leads from the front - I haven't seen anyone like him, he is an absolute machine - and off it, he looks at all the details. He is a real, true leader.

"Everyone knows that Al will die for the cause. He is going to be the first man to want to make that tackle, make that first carry. Everyone is behind him and supporting him."

While Jones' appointment as captain made plenty of headlines when Warren Gatland named his matchday 23 on Wednesday, Hibbard was also in the news after he was among six changes to the starting XV following the second Test reverse six days ago.

The 29-year-old replaces Tom Youngs in the front row after being used as a second-half replacement in both the first and second rubbers in Brisbane and Melbourne and he admits that he can't wait help the class of 2013 attempt to rewrite the history books this weekend.

"It feels pretty much like a duck: everything is calm up top, but your feet are going mad underneath! That's how it feels at the moment," added Hibbard.

"It's a great feeling. We know what's at stake. We can go into the history books. We want to play with a smile on our face and get the series win.

"It doesn't get much bigger than this. I played in a championship decider earlier this year, and that was big enough. It has stepped up a touch now.

"There's a lot of pressure, it's a massive game. Last week we were devastated to lose, and it's not often you get a second chance at doing something. The boys really want to do this, and carve our names in history."

Hibbard insists preparations for the most eagerly awaited game in recent Lions history are right on track, with the pack fully aware of the need to set the foundations to ensure the backline can test the Wallabies defence a little more often in Sydney than they did in Melbourne.

And with French referee Romain Poite taking charge of the decider after New Zealander Chris Pollock and South Africa's Craig Joubert kept watch in Tests one and two, Hibbard is hopeful that a strong showing at the setpiece will bring the right rewards on the biggest stage of all.

"Today went well, we crossed a lot of t's and dotted the i's. It's just looking at the details now going into the game. We have still got a couple more notches to go up, and hopefully everything comes together on Saturday and we perform.

"The set-piece is massive for us, it's where we can build our platform. We want to go well in scrums and lineouts and really dominate.

"What you find with French referees is that they actually want to referee aspects of the scrum. They reward the dominant team, so hopefully we can get on the front foot there."

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