Saracens prop Matt Stevens admits he was shocked to be called up to the British and Irish Lions squad and believes his surprise selection is a testament to the trust placed in him by Saracens this season.

Stevens was Warren Gatland’s most unexpected inclusion in the 37-man tour party and will join fellow Sarries players Mako Vunipola and Owen Farrell on the plane to Australia this summer.

The Men in Black trio will have to tread carefully around some disappointed teammates this week however as Chris Ashton, Kelly Brown, Alex Goode and Brad Barritt were all overlooked.

For Stevens, his selection adds another chapter to a tumultuous eight years that has seen him selected for the 2005 Lions tour to New Zealand, serve a two-year ban for using cocaine and retire from England duty last August.

When he found out he was selected the 30-year-old was on a train to Bath and his wife was reeling the names off as they came up on Twitter.

"When I heard my name I was shocked," Stevens told the Times Series on Tuesday. "I knew I was in contention because every player that was in contention had to sign a contract so the administration was out the way but there were a lot of guys competing to get into that position.

"I didn’t doubt I was good enough to be there as such, I just didn’t think it was going to happen like that. It was an amazing, humbling, wonderful feeling.

"I know what it is to go on a Lions tour and I know what a special tour it is. I’m very humbled and very privileged.

"Obviously I’m not playing internationally anymore - it was a nice shock and one that I think I deserve, but it wasn’t something I expected."

After seeing out his ban for drug use, Stevens began rebuilding his career at Saracens in 2010.

Two years later he decided to repay the Men in Black’s faith in him by retiring from England, where he had earned 44 caps, to focus completely on his club career.

Stevens though insists he does not see the Lions call-up as atonement for his past and that having retired from international duty, he owes much of his success to Sarries.

"I don’t really see it like that. I think if you work hard and surround yourself with the right people you can get a second chance," Stevens said.

"Retiring from England was just a feeling I had really, there’s a lot of pressure associated with international rugby but I wasn’t getting that much game time.

"I was going to training and I was getting ten minutes off the bench here and there but I wasn’t really getting the game time I needed to build up any form.

"Saracens trusted me. Players need to play to build up form and to play well you need to feel trusted and to enjoy what you’re doing - I think that’s why I’ve played better this year."

The 130kg forward will be on his second Lions tour having been part of the ill-fated campaign to New Zealand in 2005 which saw the Kiwis dominate each of the test matches to win 3-0.

Stevens though insists it’s just as exciting to be called up this time round and believes a Lions tour is a unique experience for any rugby player.

The former Bath player said: "Playing for the Lions is right at the top of my career - it’s a massive thing - I toured New Zealand and it’s easily the best tour you can go on without a doubt.

"The 2007 World Cup [for England] was fantastic because we made it all the way to the final but there’s something magical about the Lions.

"It’s a melting pot of all the different nations coming together and you have to bond so quickly so everyone’s keen to learn about each other and play with each other - it’s a really special tour."

The Men in Black return to Premiership action against Bath this Saturday hoping to maintain their unbeaten record at Allianz Park and finish top of the table for the very first time.

With a guaranteed home play-off semi-final to look forward to, Stevens insists he will be putting the Lions tour to the back of his mind for the next few weeks.

He said: "If anything it makes it all the more important for me to play well for Saracens and put in a good performance because it’s the Saracens team that’s got me to where I am now.

"They’re the reason I got picked for the Lions side and I owe a huge amount to them. We’re at the end of our season and we’ve got a semi-final to play.

"We want to win a Premiership and that’s what will be on our minds now."