Proud tradition to lift Lions

Lions No 8 Jamie Heaslip says the pride and history of the jersey will inspire the tourists to win the last Test.

The Lions were shattered after the loss at Loftus Versfeld, a loss that signified a series defeat. The result renders the Ellis Park fixture a dead rubber, and after a bruising tour, the visitors must be struggling for motivation.

The players trained for the first time on Tuesday after Ian McGeechan gave them several days to forget that defeat. Heaslip, who was inconsolable at Loftus, said the mental break had done them good. The Lions will now look to salvage something from a disappointing tour.

‘Saturday’s about out and out pride,’ he told keo.co.za. ‘I don’t think we’ll have any problem replicating the desire you saw last week. It’s got nothing to do with what you think as an individual, it’s about pride, it’s about the jersey.

‘Many great players have come before us and some have ended up on the losing side. There have also been players who have come here and won. We owe it to both sets of players to avoid the whitewash.’

The Irishman admitted this was the most intense rugby he has ever experienced. Even though the Boks have made a number of changes to their starting line-up, Heaslip expects another onslaught.

‘They’re very brutal in the forwards, and as you can see by our players’ injuries, the backs as well. I’ve been involved in a few tough games, but I’ve never experienced that kind of match.

‘We have to keep up the intensity,’ Heaslip continued. ‘We made two mistakes last week and they punished us, that’s what world champions do. I do think we will be up for this game.

‘We have to reduce the mistakes, and we have to stick to our multi-phase game. I think you can see that when we’ve done that, they’ve battled to keep up with us.’

Heaslip will be joined by Joe Worsley and Martyn Williams in the back row, with David Wallace and Tom Croft dropping to the bench.

By Jon Cardinelli, in Johannesburg