With the Lions’ first game of their 10-match tour now only three days away, Nathan Hines says all eyes are turning towards selection.
Ian McGeechan and his assistant coaches will name their matchday 22 for Saturday’s clash with the Royal XV at 12.30pm (UK time) this Thursday and Hines would love to be a part of the first Lions team of 2009.
The Scotland lock passed up the opportunity of playing in the French Championship semi-final with Perpignan this weekend in order to join up with the Lions and he is now focusing solely on performing well for Britain and Ireland’s elite.
The Australian-born former Edinburgh forward has admitted he was delighted to be named in McGeechan’s original 37-man touring party but that he would be even more excited to be selected for Saturday’s clash in Phokeng.
"The excitement of being selected for the tour has gone now to be honest; it’s all about being selected to play, to put your body on the line for the Lions and to win in a Lions jersey," said Hines, who will be competing with Donncha O’Callaghan, Simon Shaw, Alun-Wyn Jones and captain Paul O’Connell for a spot in the second row.
"Then it’s about winning a Test series in South Africa. I’ve come close to winning here with Scotland, but not done it yet, so I’m pretty determined to make sure I don’t leave this time without knowing what it feels like to beat the Springboks on their own soil."
Having spent a week getting to know his fellow Lions prior to departure at Pennyhill Park and now having begun to settle into life in South Africa, Hines says the initial stages of team bonding have been a real success.
However, although he is sure that team spirit within the camp will continue to grow throughout the tour, the 32-year-old insists that performing well out on the field will soon become the main objective.
"The laughs and the bonding are important, because in rugby you have to be able to trust your team-mates, and be prepared to go a long way for them, and that’s why the most successful teams tend to be ones that have been together for a long time," added Murray.
"We don’t have time, so we’ve had to come together quickly, but now everybody just wants to get on the field."