Second crack at Lions for Slater

Gordon Slater admits he never thought he would get a second crack at playing the British & Irish Lions. [more]

Lions Australia Tour 2013

Gordon Slater admits he never thought he would get a second crack at playing the British & Irish Lions.

But on Wednesday the evergreen 33-year-old prop will be hoping Taranaki can go one better when they take on the best of Britain and Ireland in New Plymouth.

Back in 1993 the then 20-year-old Slater was on the wrong end of 49-25 scoreline but remembers little else about the game, apart from the fact he locked horns with England and Lions stalwart Jason Leonard.

He certainly never envisaged playing against the men in red 12 years later.

"I thought with the way rugby has gone these days with the lack of tours, I wasn’t sure if we would get another tour here, even in Taranaki. So it’s just a bonus really," he said.

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Slater, who made his Taranaki debut in 1991, reckons the most important piece of advice for his team-mates on Wednesday is to "enjoy the occasion and soak up the atmosphere".

"We’ve just got to get out there and get our hands on the ball and actually play some rugby and not get too overawed by the occasion."

Slater will also be renewing acquaintances with another England prop, Graham Rowntree, on Wednesday.

The pair first clashed when Slater was part of the touring New Zealand side in 1997 where he played three midweek games against Wales A, Emerging England and England A.

Rowntree and the New Zealander packed down against each other in Huddersfield and Leicester when the All Blacks came out on top against Emerging England and England A respectively.

"I’m looking forward to meeting him again and it should be another good scrap.

"From what I remember he was a good scrummager and he’s good around the track as well."

The Taranaki front row of Slater, former All Blacks hooker Andrew Hore and Hurricanes prop Tony Penn have a wealth of experience to call upon and the return of lock Paul Tito from New Zealand Maori duty along with Chris Masoe’s inclusion after his efforts in the All Blacks trial, will be another welcome boost.

"It’s going to help because it’s about laying a good platform. Experience, at the end of the day, you can’t beat it," Slater added.

"It’s good having that experience and hopefully that will rub off on the other players."

Taranaki won’t be short on speed either with wing Sailosi Tagicakibau, who has played eight Tests for Samoa, back in the side after fracturing his leg while playing Super 12 rugby for the Chiefs at the end of April.

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