Only a whitewash of the Lions tomorrow will satisfy the Springbok thirst for revenge, according to one of the men who played on the losing South Africa team 12 years ago. The former South Africa centre, Andre Snyman, remembers well the 1997 South Africa Lions tour when he watched his opposite number, Jeremy Guscott, slot over the series-winning dropped goal in the second Test.
He says he will not be the only one with such a long memory when the game kicks off tomorrow at Coca Cola Park in Johannesburg. "To be fair I think the Lions did play better rugby," he said of South Africa's 28-25 victory in Pretoria last week. "It was unfortunate they lost with a minute of brilliance from Morne Steyn. But for that last-minute penalty it would have been a live final, but I think it's fair to say that the Lions deserved the draw.
"It reminded me of '97 when Guscott scored that dropped goal to steal the series for the Lions. The Boks all want to make up for that memory." The world champions are 2-0 up in the three-Test series with hard-fought, physical victories coming by the slimmest of margins, but Snyman says there is no chance of the Springboks taking their foot off the gas for the dead rubber. "The Boks went into this series with the motivation of reversing the fortunes of '97," said Snyman who played all three Tests 12 years ago.
"Obviously to win 3-0 is the biggest motivation for them now. They will go out there in Johannesburg and do absolutely everything they can to whitewash the Lions. They won't be satisfied with 2-1." The Lions coach, Ian McGeechan, is already beset with injury woes with Brian O'Driscoll, Jamie Roberts, Gethin Jenkins and Adam Jones ruled out for tomorrow's action following tough and often controversial collisions during the Lions loss.
The Springbok flanker Schalk Burger and second-row forward Bakkies Botha both sit out the series finale after being banned for gouging and a dangerous challenge respectively, but Snyman says those incidents aside, South Africa have not stepped over the line on the pitch. "Rugby is a tough, physical sport and its not for sissies," he said. "These guys are playing at the highest level and if you can't take knocks you shouldn't play.
"The Boks are playing a determined Lions side and they are going in hard, they are motivated and have upped their game for this series. You are bound to have injuries - have you seen the South Africa players; they are big men and they are tough." And the Springboks have not yet shown their best rugby, warned Snyman. "There is more to come," he said. "They haven't really played together since last November. These are their first games as a team and it showed that they have been warming up.
"They will step up for this Test and at the back of their minds they know the Tri-Nations is coming up. "Don't underestimate how much the Boks want that sense of one-upmanship over the Lions." But Snyman knows that the tourists will fight tooth and nail for their pride when tomorrow's game kicks off. "They have played excellent rugby and don't deserve to be 2-0 down in this series," he said. "It's tough to come to South Africa and win at altitude.
"I can't understand these people who say the Lions aren't relevant any more. In South Africa you might wait your whole career to play against a Lions side and many never do. When you do it is something very special. There is a lot of pride in that jersey." firstname.lastname@example.org The final Test will be screened at the Crowne Plaza hotel, Dubai with Andre Snyman and Gregor Townsend. Tickets available at the door and are priced 125, including entry and food. Kick- off 5 pm.