Jamie Roberts, Stephen Jones and Phil Vickery quotes prior to First Test

Jamie Roberts, Stephen Jones and Phil Vickery talk prior to the first Test in Durban verses the Springboks. [more]

Lions Australia Tour 2013

Jamie Roberts, Stephen Jones and Phil Vickery talk prior to the first Test in Durban verses the Springboks.

JAMIE ROBERTS

It was only a year ago that Roberts played inside centre for the first time on the international stage for Wales against South Africa. Now he has risen to the heights of partnering Brian O’Driscoll in the British & Irish Lions Test side.

“On a personal level, it is nuts, crazy. This is the highlight of my rugby career – an unbelievable achievement,” said the 22-year-old Roberts.

“I hope it will be an inspiration for any young player. We have seen Leigh Halfpenny and Keith Earls, guys who are younger than me, show they can reach this stage so early on in their careers

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“For those young professionals in the academies it proves that if you really work hard enough you can reach this level in a couple of years.

“We have a fantastic opportunity as a Lions touring team to get a victory out here. We know this game is going to push us all to new limits.

“Fitness wise, we know how tough it is going to be. It is going to be like nothing the boys have ever experienced before, but the guys are getting mentally prepared for that.

“The adrenalin is going to kick in. We are game ready and raring to go.”

PHIL VICKERY

Phil Vickery knows what it is like to play in a winning British & Irish Lions Test team. He was there with Brian O’Driscoll the last time the Lions triumphed in a Test match in Brisbane eight years ago.

Now he can’t wait for another crack at winning with the Lions – and adding a Test series triumph to his already glittering rugby career.

“The build-up to the game is fantastic. I’m more nervous about this game than any ever before,” said the 2003 English World Cup winner.

“I’m never going to have the chance of playing for the Lions again after this tour, so I will be leaving everything out on the pitch. I intend to make the most of the opportunity.

“It will be a privilege to run out in another Test with the Lions jersey on. Winning that first Test against Australia in 2001 was my greatest rugby experience.

“Playing for the Lions is unique, very special. It has been great meeting all the fans here in Durban and finding Welshmen, Irishmen and Scotsmen coming up and shaking my hand and wishing me well.

“That doesn’t normally happen at home when I’m playing with England.”

STEPHEN JONES

Welsh outside half Stephen Jones made his international debut against the Springboks in 1998, but has yet to beat them. Now he is chasing a double – winning against South Africa and winning a Test with the British & Irish Lions.

Jones got the nod over Ronan O’Gara for the first Test in Durban and can’t wait to chase his twin goals.

“It has been a wonderful tour so far. We’ve worked hard and been successful, but the real challenge starts tomorrow. It is going to be a big challenge because we are playing the world champions,” he said

“it is going to be a very physical game and the contact area is going to be tough. Our preparation has been fantastic. We have a wonderful squad of players here, but it is all about winning and that’s the goal.

“We are a team that only came together four weeks ago but we have gathered momentum, got better as the tour has prtogressed and we are in a good place at the moment. I think they will stick to their simplistic game plan, but we are happy with where we are at.

“It is hugely important to win the first test, it is as simple as that. It is our first chance to show how good we are and it is about us doing that.

“It is a massive game for us. We have to be clever how we play, but it is all about winning and this is our first opportunity.

“The amount of support we’ve got out here is fantastic and it might seem like a home game for us here in Durban.”

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