Phil Vickery believes the British and Irish Lions have reached "a very dangerous time" of their South Africa tour.
Vickery, England’s 2007 World Cup final skipper, will captain the unbeaten Lions in tomorrow’s clash against Western Province at Newlands.
The first Test appointment with world champions South Africa is just eight days away, and anticipation of that three-game series has gone up a notch with Lions fans now starting to arrive in escalating numbers.
Vickery, though, knows his team cannot be distracted by what awaits in Durban next week as they prepare to tackle possibly their toughest opponents so far.
The Western Province line-up, led by number eight Luke Watson, features four Springboks, while a crowd of around 50,000 will guarantee the Lions a white-hot welcome.
“Purely from a personal point of view, I think we are at a very dangerous time of the tour,” said Vickery.
“The big realisation for me was arriving (in Cape Town) last night and probably for the first time seeing so many supporters here.
“We were talking to people at the airport and they were saying how the red army is on its way.
“The worrying thing for me, more than anything, is all the talk is of the Test next week, but we’ve got two games to go before then.
“There is everything to play for tomorrow. I want to make sure the guys go out and give no less than 100% and make it as difficult as possible for the coaches to select that (Test) team.
“I don’t want to be part of a Lions team that loses and I certainly don’t want to captain a Lions team that loses for the first time on tour.
“It is a big, big game for us. Everyone is aware of that, and we will be doing everything we can to make sure we keep the ball rolling.”