New Worcester Warriors full back Chris Latham was involved in both the first and second Tests during that series, starting the match in Brisbane and coming on as a replacement during the Wallabiesâ00 crucial win in Melbourne.
Having been a part of the World Cup win in 1999, Latham has since reached a second World Cup Final, been the star performer in the Southern versus Northern Hemisphere charity match in 2005, been voted Australian Super 12 Player of the Year on three occasions, earned more than 100 provincial caps for Queensland and become the first back to win the John Eales Medal for the most impressive performer in a Wallaby season.
Despite such an extensive CV, the 32-year-old ranks the 2001 triumph against the Lions as one of the most memorable moments of his glittering career.
â00When I was playing for the Reds, you never really look back and reminisce on the good times but, having left there, you certainly look back and think â00that was a great and fantastic thing to be involved withâ00,â0 says Latham.
â00Being part of that squad and winning that series is a massive highlight within my career.â0
Chris Latham has had an astonishing career with Australia
Like so many other players and spectators around the world, Latham recognises the special place a Lions tour commands in the sporting calendar. He may have played, or be about to play, in some of the most exciting tournaments rugby has to offer, but Latham admits that a Test series involving the Lions is a truly unique experience.
â00Itâ00s one of those aspects of rugby that separates it from a lot of other sports.
â00Thereâ00s a lot of fantastic traditions within rugby and one of those is being involved in playing against the Lions. Once I got involved in rugby and all of a sudden it was on the calendar, it was something I wanted to be a part of.
â00I thoroughly enjoyed it, although it was brief but very exciting. Itâ00s certainly one of those things that makes the brand of rugby more attractive.
â00Itâ00s one of those aspects of rugby thatâ00s unique and I guess itâ00s pretty much like a World Cup. Itâ00s one of those things that doesnâ00t come around all that often. Youâ00re up against the best in that position and the quality of rugby is very high.â0
Latham is full of praise for those who follow the Lions
Itâ00s not just the quality of rugby that Latham remembers from 2001, either. Equally impressive was the quality and magnitude of the support the Lions received Down Under.
Although he was playing against the Lions rather than for them, Latham cannot speak highly enough of the thousands of supporters who followed the tourists to the other side of the world. In his view, such enthusiastic and wholehearted support had, and continues to have, a massive impact on the way Australians follow the Wallabies.
â00The supporters that support the Lions are phenomenal.
â00I think itâ00s the pinnacle of the way rugby should be supported.
â00To be honest, Australian rugby hadnâ00t been supported as well until the Lions toured. The first game we played in Brisbane, there were more red jerseys and Lions supporters than there were Aussie supporters.
â00It changed not only the way the spectators reacted and supported but also the way the marketing and everything else went as well.
â00I think, culturally, that gave Australia a boost and a shock to say â00this is how weâ00re meant to support rugbyâ00.