Phil Vickery revealed he is looking forward to tomorrow's third Test against South Africa - his last appearance in a British and Irish Lions jersey - more than any other game of his career.
The Wasps and England prop has reclaimed the tight-head role from the injured Adam Jones and will lock horns again with Tendai ‘The Beast’ Mtawarira, the Springboks loose-head who gave him such a mauling in the Lions’ first Test defeat.
Vickery, 33, is not only ready for the challenge but he is determined to sign off both his Lions career and this tour on a high note at Ellis Park.
“I am looking forward to this match more than any other match I have ever played in,” said Vickery.
“It is my last game in a Lions jersey and I want to make sure we go out on a high.
“It is good to get back out there. Tomorrow is a clean sheet. It is unfortunate for Adam. I am gutted for him but I have been given an opportunity tomorrow and it is up to me to go out and perform.
“I am thoroughly looking forward to the challenge. It will be a great occasion, there are two teams who have nothing to lose, and hopefully we can sign the tour off in style and with a great deal of credit.
“I am very proud to be part of this group of people.”
Vickery lasted only 44 minutes of the first Test as the Lions’ tight-five failed to deal with an unexpected onslaught from the South African pack.
“You know you have had a bad game when your mum, your missus and your sister text you to say they still love you,” Vickery joked.
Vickery watched from the bench as Jones succeeded in suring up the scrum during the second half in Durban before turning the tables on South Africa in the second Test.
The Lions were the dominant scrummaging unit in Pretoria before Jones suffered a dislocated shoulder and Gethin Jenkins fractured his cheekbone, which forced the introduction of uncontested scrums.
Lions forwards coach Warren Gatland believes the manner in which Jones handled the Springboks has spiked Vickery’s confidence heading into tomorrow’s showdown.
“Adam didn’t think much to the Beast at all and Phil has taken confidence from the way Adam scrummaged,” said Gatland.
“Phil also has Matthew Rees and Simon Shaw is in behind him as well. Phil is very experienced and in the front row every day in the office is not a great day. But you get back in there.”
And Mtawarira has been warned by South Africa captain John Smit he will be facing a very different animal at Ellis Park tomorrow than he did at King’s Park in Durban.
“I have known Phil a long time,” said Smit.
“He is a far greater player than what came out in the first Test. I think he will be as relieved and as excited as anyone to have another crack at the Springboks and certainly at our front row.
“He has done damage to many front rows before and I have already said it to Tendai that there is going to be a completely different person in front of him.
“Tendai needs to be really up for it. Phil is the kind of guy who has been around for a long time so he will have learned a great deal from that first Test.”