The Lions believe Phil Vickery will have his revenge when he packs down against Beast Mtawarira for the second time.
The tourists have lost their two first-choice props with Gethin Jenkins (fractured cheekbone) and Adam Jones (dislocated shoulder) injured in the second Test. The injuries weaken the Lions’ scrum, but they afford Vickery, who was dropped after being outscrummed by Mtawarira in Durban, a shot at redemption.
Lions forwards coach Warren Gatland said he doesn’t rate Mtawarira’s scrumming ability, as the Bok loosehead was manhandled by Jones in the second Test. Gatland confirmed Jones said the Beast was ‘nothing special’ when analysing the Lions’ scrum performance afterward.
‘Adam clearly didn’t think much of him,’ Gatland told keo.co.za. ‘Phil’s had a good chat to Adam since and is feeling confident. There have been a few technical adjustments and he’ll be scrumming down with Matthew Rees alongside him and Simon Shaw behind him. I’m sure that will make a big difference.
‘Phil got a couple of poor hits in the first Test, but I also think the Beast was getting away with standing up or driving in. Once that happens [and the referee allows it] you sometimes get things going your way.’
Vickery preferred to focus on the performance of his pack as a whole rather than talk about any kind of revenge.
‘I’m looking forward to this game more than any other because it’s my last in a Lions jersey,’ he told this website. ‘We’ve got nothing to lose and they’ve got nothing to lose so it’s a great way to sign off what’s been a great tour – apart from the result.
‘I have great confidence in my ability and the ability of those around me. It’s a combination of the emotional and the technical when preparing for this game. I’m sure I’ll be ready.’
The England veteran admitted the experience of referee Stuart Dickinson could work in the Lions’ favour. The tourists have griped about the standard of officiating on this tour, but it’s clear they’re pleased Dickinson is now in charge.
‘There are some different partnerships in our pack and there’s also a different referee. Saturday is a clean slate for us, we don’t expect it to unfold as the other two Tests. We have to forget about what has happened because it won’t count for much in a brand new game.’
By Jon Cardinelli, in Johannesburg