Lions a privilege say Boks

Springbok skipper John Smit says it will be a 'privilege' to play against the British & Irish Lions next month. [more]

Lions a privilege say Boks

Springbok skipper John Smit says it will be a ‘privilege’ to play against the British & Irish Lions next month.

The inspirational Bok leader has described the three-match Test series against Ian McGeechan’s tourists as a unique opportunity and one which he and his team-mates intend to grasp with both hands.

"It will be an incredible occasion and it’s almost more of a privilege for us than it is for the Lions,” said Smit, who starts at tight-head prop for the world champions against a Namibian XV in Windhoek tomorrow night.

"The guys from the four Home Nations have the opportunity to play for the Lions once every four years, but for us the chance to play against the Lions only comes around once every 12 years.

"There are guys who play a hundred Tests and never get the chance to play against the Lions. You can be the best Springbok the world has ever seen and yet go through your entire career without ever having an opportunity to play against the Lions.

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"That makes it so much more special to any player who even remotely has a chance of doing so.

"I’ve seen it with the guys who are on the fringes, the guys who are chasing the green and gold jersey; everyone has put in so much more this year because of the chance to getting into that first squad of 30 with the possibility of facing the Lions."

Worryingly for McGeechan and company, Smit believes the South African side who will line up against the Lions for the first Test in Durban on June 20 will be an even stronger outfit than the one that lifted the William Webb Ellis Trophy in Paris in October 2007.

Smit feels his side’s added experience could be crucial as the Boks look to erase some painful memories from their series defeat to the Lions 12 years ago.

"I would like to think we’ve made progress since 2007," added Smit.

"I believe we pose a bigger threat now than we did then because we’ve got pretty much the same group but with two added years of experience.

"If we didn’t pose (a threat), it would mean we’ve become stuck or even regressed and I don’t think we have. We will lift our game up a notch from the World Cup as we’ve moved forward.

"The amazing thing about this group of guys is that they are very driven and ambitious. The Lions series was in our minds before we even played in the World Cup. It will be a Test series the likes of which we will never see again and it’s the chance of a lifetime for us."

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