British & Irish Lions Head Coach Ian McGeechan and Tour Manager Gerald Davies locked swords with the South African media for the first time ahead of next year's tour in Cape Town today.
And both legendary Lions, who each made their debuts for the combined side in South Africa, claimed they were looking forward to the 'mouth-watering' prospect of leading their team against the reigning world champions.
McGeechan and Davies were in Cape Town as part of their 12 day visit to South Africa to prepare the way for next summer's tour. They will take in the Tests between the Springboks and Wales on their way.
But all thoughts were firmly fixed on 2009 at the press conference, with Davies explaining the 'magic' essence of touring with the Lions.
"The whole idea of the Lions being awake in 12 months time and coming to South Africa for a three Test series against the Springboks is a mouth-watering prospect," he said.
"There is already great anticipation in our country of what is to come. It is only a four year cycle, but the Lions is a magic name in world rugby.
"There is a magic quality that attaches itself to the Lions and it is great that we are back on the road and coming to South Africa.
"It is not only a significant rugby event - the Lions verses the Springboks is a significant worldwide sporting event".
That was a view backed up by Ian McGeechan, who already has two Test series triumphs over the Springboks to his credit with the Lions. As a player in 1974 he figured in all four Tests as the Lions took the series 3-0 with one match drawn.
He returned in 1997 as coach on a tour that saw Martin Johnson's men beat the then world champions 2-1.
"I'm delighted to be coming back to South Africa. I've enjoyed the rugby here and I think a lot of British & Irish players will say they were influenced by playing rugby here or playing against the Springboks," said McGeechan.
"It's a great tour to be looking forward to and, for Gerald and myself, this is really the beginning. We have come together this week for an initial recce to look at hotels, training grounds and also, for the two of us, to look at our own structures of what we want to do and how we want to run the tour.
"It is great to get the chance to watch the Springboks play Wales in the two Tests. And, as we will becoming a part of your country for seven or eight weeks next year, I think it is very important to get a feel for what it is like.
"I would also love to come back and watch one or two of the Tri Nations games. It all helps to know the sort of player we will need in 12 months time to be part of the Lions.
"A lot can happen in 12 months. The biggest challenge for the Lions is coming together quickly because it is not like any other international side coming here. We will have to find ourselves first and then put something together that makes us competitive.
"The game has moved on since I was last here in 1997. Then the game had just gone professional and it was very different from now.
"Having said that, there are some traditional things that I believe are important about the Lions, about getting the squad together. How you do that is a challenge.
"It's a mix of the traditional with the professional. This is the longest tour the players will go on other than the World Cup - 10 games over seven weeks is a challenge that you only meet in the modern game as a Lion.
"As for me, I've just kept coaching since 1997. I enjoy it and I certainly wouldn't be involved if I hadn't been coaching first hand with London Wasps. The game is moving so quickly you do have to have hands on coaching experience, which is the bit I like best.
"I just enjoy the challenge of the rugby and tactically trying to produce good teams.
The game in South Africa is in very good shape at the moment and they have some talented players, that's why it will be interesting to watch them play against Wales."
Looking ahead to 2009, McGeechan stressed that lessons had been learned from the 2005 trip to New Zealand.
"There will be one playing group and one coaching group. The Lions are so different and in order to have an understanding of each other you need to be training, working, travelling together," added McGeechan.
"We will have a small coaching team with all the coaches being involved and working with every player. The next 10 days are quite important for Gerald and myself because it will be the first chance we get to sit down and really think about what we want to do, and how we want to do it.
"By getting everything in place as early as possible it will allow us to focus more easily on the rugby. The most important thing in rugby terms is that the players understand what is expected of them and tactically what you want them to try and do.
"You don't need to be over complicated and I think that it has to be very clear how you want the players to play. That has always been my philosophy as a coach and it is important that you create a framework that allows your talent - and there is a lot of it out there - to perform.
"It is important that we come to terms with the new ELVs quickly. We will have to see in September the impact they will have not just on our players, but also the coaches.
"It's going to be a challenge and we will have to discover how to interpret them. Coming from a very successful game in the northern hemisphere, I think the impact of the ELVs will be different from country to country.
"It is going to be interesting to see the impact they have on our game because I do think our game is in good shape, certainly as far as the spectators are concerned having just come from a club final that had a world record crowd of 81,600 watching.
"Obviously, I was involved with London Wasps until last weekend, so this week is the first time that I have really put my Lions hat on properly. As part of this visit we have got some good time to talk together about the Tour, the structures, the programme that we want to see in place and then the sort of personnel we will need.
"I hope that come the Autumn Series of internationals that we will have a lot of these things in place and be ready to go.
"I think there has already been a reaction from the players, with many of them talking about putting themselves into contention for the Lions. And from what I have heard, a few of the South Africans want to be here, or be in a position to play against the Lions.
"When you have got that affect on players, in both camps, then you know there must be something very good about it. A Lions tour provides a link in the professional era to what has gone in the past.
"The players see it and respect it is a totally different type of challenge to anything they will ever experience as a professional rugby player. Because it is only ever every four years, or every 12 years to South Africa, the players view it as a special part of their careers."