Lions 2013: Welsh Barbarians have point to prove, says Rees

Matthew Rees Lions

Wales hooker Matthew Rees says there will be several Barbarians players with a point to prove against the British and Irish Lions on 1 June in Hong Kong.

Rees played for the Lions four years ago in South Africa but was overlooked for this year's tour to Australia.

"There's a few Welsh players here... who have probably missed out on the Lions tour," said the 32-year-old.

"We've got to hold our hands up and be counted, and there's no better way than playing the Lions in Hong Kong."

The Barbarians play England at Twickenham on Sunday 26 May before heading to Hong Kong to provide Warren Gatland's Lions with a warm-up on their way to Australia.

Rees was famously part of the all-Welsh Lions front row - along with props Gethin Jenkins and Adam Jones, who have been selected again - for the three Tests against South Africa in June 2009.

The former Treorchy, Pontypridd and Celtic Warriors player started this season's Six Nations as Wales' first-choice hooker in the defeat to Ireland in Cardiff.

But Rees then found himself ousted from the number two shirt by Richard Hibbard, while his junior Scarlets team-mate Ken Owens was preferred among the replacements.

Hibbard's performances, as Wales fought back from that opening loss to win the Six Nations, earned the Osprey a place on the Lions tour along with England hookers Dylan Hartley and Tom Youngs.

Another Welshman, James Hook, has also at missing out on the 37-man squad.

Both men - plus Wales scrum-half Dwayne Peel and props Paul James and Duncan Jones - will want to shine for the Barbarians against a Lions side under the guidance of regular Wales coach Gatland.

"The 2015 World Cup, it's not far away and that's probably my own personal challenge," Rees said.

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Lions begin training in Wales

"The game is going to be intense, there's going to be a few other Welsh boys who'll be putting their hand up as well, and it's great to have that opportunity to play against the Lions.

"It's a great honour to be asked to represent the Baa-Baas and we start off with a tough test against England at Twickenham."

Rees, for so long a Scarlets fixture, will play for Cardiff Blues next season, where he will be reunited with coach Phil Davies.

"I've been with the Scarlets for nine years and I've had some great times there but I felt at this time in my career I needed a new challenge," Rees added.

"Obviously I've worked with [Blues director of rugby] Phil Davies in the past and he's been a great coach - when he was at the Scarlets he was probably the making of me in terms of giving me an opportunity.

"Obviously there's a few other signings he's made with Gethin [Jenkins] coming back from Toulon, and hopefully we can strengthen the squad, put in a good season and hopefully win some silverware."

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