Riki Flutey will be searching for the ultimate achievement when he makes his Lions Test debut against South Africa in Johannesburg tomorrow afternoon.
Flutey comes into the side in place of the injured Jamie Roberts, with the England centre delighted to be given a chance to impress on the biggest stage of all.
The 29-year-old New Zealander has already made history by simply being chosen for the tour itself but he has no doubts that a win against the Springboks at Coca Cola Park would be the highlight of his professional career.
“I remember Gerald Davies said right from the beginning that to win a Test match in a Lions jersey is the ultimate and even though the series gone, for me personally, it will be,” said Flutey, who played against the Lions for Wellington four years ago.
“We are going out there to win the Test match and we need to get out there and front up.
“Looking back 12 months ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed of being in this position. By rubbing shoulders with the boys in the Lions squad, I’ve learnt a hell of a lot over the last seven weeks and now to have the chance to play in a Test is something I am really, really looking forward to.”
Flutey is one of seven new faces in the Lions starting XV following last weekend’s gut-wrenching defeat in Pretoria and the new Brive signing is hopeful that the latest additions will give the tourists a new lease of life going into the third and final international.
After enjoying some time away from the training field immediately after the 28-25 reverse at Loftus Versfeld, the Lions have returned to training desperate to finish on a high. And although Flutey believes the 2009 Lions have already made a lasting impression on South African rugby, he is determined to ensure their hard-earned reputation is further enhanced this Saturday.
“Some of the boys have been fronting up and playing a lot of games over the last seven weeks and it’s an opportunity for the guys feeling real fresh and who haven’t played for 10 days or so to get out there and hopefully step it up again.
“It was nice to switch off from rugby at the start of the week – we took a couple of days on safari and that was fantastic to get out in the wild away from the city and the hype and to have a bit of our own individual time. Even though we have a few injuries in the camp the mood is good and it was refreshing to get away and come back and then just get stuck into training.
“When I walked into the changing room on Saturday and found out five of our guys were in hospital and saw how battered and bruised the boys were you see the intensity of these games. I feel like we have earned a lot of respect – the Tests matches have been as close as any Test match and in the provincial games, where we could have lost a few at the end, we showed a lot of character to hold on. But that will all count for nothing if we don’t front up at the weekend.”