VIDEO: Can Lions ambush the Lions?
SPOTLIGHT: Jan Nathaniël du Plessis, a World Cup winner and an acclaimed prop with 70 Test caps for South Africa, is salivating at the prospect of getting a second crack at the British and Irish Lions.
Du Plessis, 38, played for the victorious Bok team at the 2007 World Cup – just months after making his Test debut.
However, two years later he watched from the sidelines as South Africa beat the B&I Lions 2-1 in a brutal and dramatic Test series.
Du Plessis did play for the Sharks in a tour match in the build-up to the Tests – playing 70-odd minutes in a 3-39 loss at Kings Park in Durban.
Despite becoming a regular starter for the Boks in the subsequent years, Du Plessis have only that one game to cherish as an experience against the famous touring team.
Alun Wyn Jones will lead the 2021 tourists onto South African soil 12 years after playing a crucial role in the titanic and iconic 2009 series.
They start their tour against the Johannesburg-based Lions next Saturday, July 3.
The veteran Bok was coy about his prospects of facing the British and Irish Lions.
“It is a historic occasion,” Du Plessis said, adding that the touring team is crammed with a collection of some really great players.
(Article continues below video …)
However, he felt that the Johannesburg-based Lions – despite their dismal results this year – should be able to give a good account of themselves.
“They have the same number of legs as us, they are also just made of muscle and are only human beings,” he said, when asked by @rugby365com about the prospect of facing the star-studded tourists.
“The reality is that very few of them have played at Ellis Park, especially the first game of a tour.”
Du Plessis said, from the Johannesburg-based Lions’ perspective, it will be great to test themselves against some of the world’s best players.
“It is a massive challenge,” the veteran prop said.
“That is what is so great about tours like this, you get to measure yourself against the best.
“For us as players – those who get selected – must stand up and take responsibility.
“Hopefully we can surprise them and provide something they haven’t seen before.”
He added that it is great for the country that the tour can go ahead, despite all the COVID-19 challenges.
“It will be great to see the Springboks play again, the first time since winning the World Cup [in 2019].
“I just wish there could be spectators, because the country needs some good news.
“COVID is much more serious than what we thought and has had a massive impact on all our lives.
“We all want the Springboks to perform well.”
Du Plessis, who made his Bok debut against Australia in Sydney in July 2007, played the last of his 70 Tests against Argentina at the 2015 World Cup.
He has another 300 first-class games between Montpellier (74), Cheetahs (95) and Sharks (155).
* Picture credit: @LionsRugbyCo