Vickery ready for ‘Beast’ re-match

Phil Vickery can't wait to play in one final British & Irish Lions Test and is being backed by everyone to give a better account of himself than in his last outing. [more]

Vickery ready for ‘Beast’ re-match

Phil Vickery can’t wait to play in one final British & Irish Lions Test and is being backed by everyone to give a better account of himself than in his last outing.

That was in Durban two weeks ago when he struggled at scrum time against Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira and was replaced early in the second half. He lost his place to Adam Jones for the second Test, but returns for the third tomorrow due to the Welshman’s dislocated shoulder.

But Lions forwards coaches Warren Gatland and Graham Rowntree have no qualms about putting the England stalwart up against ‘Beast’ once again and even Springbok skipper John Smit has believes his front row colleagues will see a new Vickery in Johannesburg.

“I’ve known Phil a long time and he is a far better player than what came out in the first test. He will be as relieved and excited as anyone to have another crack at the Springboks,” said Smit.

“He has done damage to many front rows in the past and I’ve already told Tendai that he will have a totally different person in front of him on Saturday and he needs to really be up for it. Phil has been around for a long time and will have learned a great deal from that first Test.”

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For the 33-year-old Vickery it will be one final shot at playing in a Lions test – “my wife would kill me if I started thinking about another tour” – and a win would bring him his 50th triumph in what will be his 78th international outing for England and the Lions.

“It will be good to get back out there, although it is unfortunate for Adam. I spoke to Adam about last week, but that was a different game to the first Test – the first scrum didn’t come until the 17th minute,” said Vickery.
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“Now it is about me and my job. There are different players around me and a different referee, so I’m viewing it as a clean sheet. I’m confident in myself, my abilities and in the people around me

“What has gone on in the past doesn’t count for anything, it’s all about what happens on the day. I’ve been given another opportunity and it’s up to me to make the most of it.
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“The devastation of last weekend has made this week particularly long, but this is another great opportunity for us. I’m looking forward to it tremendously and I want to ensure I go out there and give a performance that is worthy of the Lions jersey.

“We want to make sure that when we go home we can leave each other with some fond memories and feel proud of being a part of this Lions team. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed people’s company as much as I have done on this tour and it is such a shame we haven’t got the results we wanted on the field.

“We don’t want to go home having laid down and let the Boks’ win the series 3-0 with an easy victory. We have worked hard on this tour and earned a lot of respect – we will leave everything on the field and have no regrets.”

Lions forwards coach Warren Gatland, himself a former international front rower, has ho qualms about re-selecting the Lions’ most experienced prop.

“Technically, he just needs to work on a few things, but I think he will go into the game with some confidence. Adam Jones said he didn’t think much of ‘Beast’ at all and he’s had a chat to Phil,” said Gatland.

“There are times when you learn in the front row and not every day at the office is a good one. But you learn from it and move forward.”

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