Lions can be a springboard

Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips believes the 2009 Lions tour can act as a springboard to success when his country face the Springboks in Cardiff tomorrow. [more]

Lions can be a springboard

Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips believes the 2009 Lions tour can act as a springboard to success when his country face the Springboks in Cardiff tomorrow.

Phillips was one of the stand-out performers in South Africa last summer as the Lions came agonizingly close to securing a series victory over the World Champions in their own backyard.

The Ospreys star lines up against the same opponents at the Millennium Stadium this weekend convinced that the experiences of the Welsh Lions 12 months ago can guide them to just a second-ever win over the Boks in more than a century of trying.

“We worked them really hard on the Lions tour last summer. In all the Test matches they were out on their feet at the end, and I think that is what we have to try to do with Wales this weekend," said Phillips, who started all three Tests on his first Lions adventure.

"The Lions tour was a memorable time for me – a dream come true.

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“It's nice to think back and recall that we finished on a winning note by winning the third Test.

"We've spoken about using it as a springboard, and I would like to think we can carry that through into Saturday's game.

"I've got to say I am still pinching myself to think I went on that tour and did quite well. Even now, I think back to what we achieved and it gives me a good feeling.

"I know we lost the series 2-1, but it was about more than that.

“We took a hell of a lot of pride from the way we performed against a world champion Springbok side."

That tour to the Republic saw Phillips cement a growing reputation as one of the world’s two leading scrum-halves alongside side Springbok counterpart Fourie du Preez.

The former Scarlets and Cardiff Blues No9 caused the Boks plenty of problems around the fringes with his immense physical presence in both defence and attack and he intends to continue in that mould this weekend.

"You have to stand up to South Africa. They are very confrontational and they like to take charge of the contact area," added Phillips.

"They like to get in your face – they are all confident guys.

"Even though I joke about being the best in the world, I know that I have faults.

"I am always learning, trying to improve myself every game I play. I am always looking for that 10-out-of-10 performance, and to be honest I am always quite hard on myself.

"South Africa are a difficult team to break down, but I think we can rise to the challenge.

"I just think there is a buzz about us at the moment, and long may it continue.”

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