Cowan-Dickie stars in final Lions audition

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Exeter Chiefs hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie produced a man of the match display for the British & Irish Lions in their 49-3 victory over the Stormers. Picture: Getty Images

By Mark Stevens

Exeter Chiefs star Luke Cowan-Dickie believes he has done everything within his power to play a role when the British and Irish Lions’ Test series against South Africa begins on Saturday.

On an afternoon that saw Alun Wyn Jones complete a comeback from a dislocated shoulder acclaimed by Warren Gatland as a “miracle” and Marcus Smith dazzle in the final quarter, it was Cornishman Cowan-Dickie who shone the brightest against the Stormers at Cape Town Stadium.

The confrontational England hooker carried the fight to the Lions’ final opponents before they face the Springboks by running with intent, plundering turnovers and chop tackling at will.

On top of his impact on both sides of the ball, his set-piece work was pinpoint and he took on the responsibility of looking for work early on at a time when the Stormers were causing problems.

Jamie George and Ken Owens are also competing for the hooking duties against the world champions and while Cowan-Dickie is in a strong position to edge his rivals, he sees a successful Lions series as the overwhelming objective.

“I’ve done what I could have done, from the previous games and against the Stormers, to put my best foot forward. But if it’s not enough I’ll have to take it on the chin,” said Cowan-Dickie, who was one of three Chiefs, alongside club-mates Jonny Hill and Sam Simmonds, to score their first-ever tries for the Lions.

“I didn’t have the most game time at the start because of coming into camp a bit late with the Exeter players, so to get another start here was massive for me. I’m trying to play as many minutes as I can on the tour and see how it goes.

“I think I have been playing reasonably OK. It has been going well for me so far. The main thing is that the set-piece is going well, the line-outs have been going well.

“I think I did put a foot closer forward to potentially getting into the 23. But if I don’t get into the 23, all I want is for the boys to win.

“It’s exciting and it was good to get over the line, but there were 22 other guys who were outstanding. I’m just excited to see what next week brings. It would be amazing to get a Test under my belt, but for me it’s about winning the Test series.

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