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Home / Latest News / British and Irish Lions 2013: Proud fathers of Welsh stars on the ‘overwhelming’ news

British and Irish Lions 2013: Proud fathers of Welsh stars on the ‘overwhelming’ news

They are among the proudest dads in Cardiff after seeing their sons named as British Lions.

But while one knew his son was on the plane to Australia for this summer’s tour, another had no idea.

Jez Warburton, father of the first Welshman to captain the Lions since 1977, said he had to pretend he was dealing with a routine call when son Sam called him with the news.

But Jamie Roberts’ dad, Norman, said he found out his son was also heading Down Under with the rest of the world yesterday morning.

Rhiwbina fireman Jez said: “I’m absolutely overwhelmed. To see your son, at the age of 24, being named among some of the great Lions captains like Martin Johnson, Willie John McBride, Brian O’Driscoll, it is truly surreal, as was watching him walking up to the podium when the announcement was made this morning.

“I’ve known for a few days and it has been so difficult to keep tight-lipped.

“Sam rang me in the week, I was in the fire station at the time and he asked me if I was alone.

“Just as I said yes and he began to tell me another fireman came into the room and sat next to me.

“So I had to act as if it was just a regular call. I just said ‘oh that’s nice’ and asked him if he was happy about it.

“It must have been the most reserved reaction any father has ever given to news that his son has been named the Lions captain.

“Who knows what Sam made of it. I had to nip into the yard afterwards and ring him back to explain.

“All I wanted to do was shout out and I couldn’t.”

Sam said keeping the news to himself was “the hardest secret I have ever had to keep”. He was asked to captain the side by coach Warren Gatland nine days ago.

Jez said: “Despite having known the announcement was coming, today has just been so amazing.

“We can stop lying to people now because everyone has been asking me about the captaincy and if I knew anything.

“I’ve had around 300 messages on my phone since the announcement and I’m trying my best to answer each one individually. It is a memorable day, one I’ll never forget.”

 

Jez and his family are now looking forward to an extended summer holiday in the southern hemisphere.

“We’ve already made preliminary arrangements to go out to Australia but we wanted to wait until Sam got through the end of the season unscathed before settling on plans,” he said.

“I’ll be ringing the tour operator to finalise our booking.

“We’re going over there for the three tests and I cannot wait to see him in a Lions shirt.

“But just knowing that Sam has achieved something he dreamt of as a child is truly special and it goes without saying that we’re all over the moon.”

In Thornhill, Norman Roberts and his wife, Jacqueline, had no hint Cardiff Blues centre Jamie had been selected. Apart from Sam, the other squad members also learnt they were included during yesterday’s live announcement.

Jamie Roberts
Jamie Roberts has been selected for the Lions squad

 

Norman said: “We’re obviously thrilled to bits but it has been a different experience from 2009 when Jamie’s inclusion on the Lions tour came out of the blue.

“This time I think we would have been bitterly disappointed had he not been on the plane to Australia but thankfully he is so we are delighted.

“It’s been a pretty good month, with Jamie also passing his medical exams and qualifying as a doctor. I think it’s an incredible double achievement for him.”

Norman added that although Jamie’s teammate, Sam, had kept his captaincy news a secret there were some in the Cardiff camp who had their suspicions.

He added: “I think some of the other players were joking with Sam earlier this week about his mysterious trip to London on Tuesday but he didn’t let on.

“We decided a while ago that we’d be going to Australia as it’s a country we’ve never been to, regardless of whether Jamie was selected or not.

“We’re looking forward to seeing him play.”

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