The Lions: Matt Stevens admits he is shocked to be included in squad
Last Updated: 01/05/13 3:43pm
Matt Stevens: Shocked at Lions call-up
Saracens prop Matt Stevens admits he was surprised to be named in Warren Gatland's Lions squad.
The former England man was perhaps the most surprising name in the 37-man squad for this summer's tour of Australia, given that he retired from international rugby a year ago.
Few pundits were tipping him to be included, but he will travel with Sarries team-mates Mako Vunipola and Owen Farrell.
"I didn't expect the chance to play international rugby again, to be truthful," he said.
"I obviously decided not to represent England; I had my reasons and it was the most difficult decision I've ever had to make as a rugby player, but this is a one-off experience that you just can't turn down."
"I obviously decided not to represent England; I had my reasons and it was the most difficult decision I've ever had to make as a rugby player, but this is a one-off experience that you just can't turn down.
"It's such a huge honour and privilege to play for the British and Irish Lions I just couldn't refuse the chance to do so."
Stevens found out the news via Twitter whilst sitting on the train with his wife.
"It still hasn't really sunk in yet," he said. "I didn't necessarily expect to get picked. I didn't get any inkling that I would be included so I'm sure no one knew that they were picked until their names were read out."
"I've been on tour before (New Zealand 2005, though he did not play a Test) and I know how amazing it can be. Lions tours are so special; it doesn't really make much sense but it just comes together in a magical way.
"You have that mutual respect for each other; players you have played against or alongside, players of real calibre are thrown together and with very little time. It's a very special experience.
"It's great that Owen and Mako have been included. Speaking as a front rower, Mako is a very special player; he makes all us props look pedestrian with his ability with ball in hand and his footwork.
"I remember my first tour in 2005, all us young players were sponges, taking in as much as we could from some fantastic players and professionals, so I'm sure Mako will be the same. He deserves his chance."
Watch the every Lions game live and exclusive only on Sky Sports. To sign up or upgrade click here