Lions great Ian McLaughlan believes there is more than the just the success of the 2009 Lions tour resting on the outcome of the imminent Test series between the Lions and the Springboks.
The former Scotland prop was the rock upon which the success of both the 1971 and 1974 Lions tours were built.
The man known as ‘Mighty Mouse’ played in all four Tests as the Lions recorded their only-ever series victory in New Zealand 38 years ago before again being an ever-present as the Lions beat the Springboks four years later.
McLaughlan never tasted series defeat as a Lion and he is desperate to see the class of 2009 experience the success he and his team-mates achieved in the early seventies.
While McLaughlan is certain that the experience of winning a Test series with the Lions would be a career highlight for any individual, he believes that the significance of this particular tour makes victory even more important for the Lions family as a whole.
"The Lions have got to win this series, there’s no doubt about that," said McLaughlan, who made 30 appearances for the Lions overall.
"For the future of the British & Irish Lions, it’s a must."
Ian McLaughlan (far right) tasted series success in South Africa in 1974
The reasoning behind such a bold statement comes from the outcomes of the two most-recent tours, particularly the tour of New Zealand in 2005.
The Lions have not won a series since 1997 and McLaughlan feels the humbling whitewash by the All Blacks last time out has left the Lions with a tarnished reputation.
"I was in New Zealand in 2005 and it was embarrassing," added the 67-year-old.
"It did not go well. I think serious lessons will have been learnt. It got to ludicrous stages – the New Zealanders were certainly laughing at us. It was horrible.
"This is a series that’s there to be won. South Africa are very capable of playing really good rugby, but it’s always a case of how much rugby you are allowed to play. You have to put pressure on them up front. If these Lions don’t do that they can forget it.
"This is a chance to resurrect the Lions brand around the world by winning a Test series for the first time in 12 years. The Lions series is the big thing for the Springboks and they’ll be going all out to win it – especially after what happened in 1997."