x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

I'd be embarrassed by their excuses

There have been a lot of things said in the past week, most of it in the heat of the moment, and I hope it doesn't detract from what's been good about this Lions series.

There have been a lot of things said in the past week, most of it in the heat of the moment, and I hope it doesn't detract from what's been good about this Lions series. The rugby has been intense. We have had two hard-fought, close Tests and hopefully another great game today. Last week's 28-25 win was one of the most enjoyable matches I have played in because you never knew which way the game was going to go.

But all the talk has been of how unlucky the Lions were and that Schalk Burger should have been red-carded for the incident with Luke Fitzgerald. I can understand the Lions disappointment. They came here with high hopes and did come close to beating us, but I would like to think all the excuses are being generated by the media. I would be embarrassed as to how many excuses are being looked at if I was a Lions player. Injuries happen, and to expect a red card on the spot in the first minute when it comes to something like eye gouging is a bit too much to ask for by any team.

We have seen many Test matches where a guy has been punched in front a referee and a red card was not shown because the referee can never be completely sure of what he has seen. If this happened to one of ours we would have wanted the other player cited and punished, and that's what happened with Schalk. If I was Paul O'Connell, the Lions captain, I would be asking how we lost that game in Pretoria. They have had the best 40 minutes against a Springbok side that anyone's had in the last three years and they only gained eight points on us. In the end we missed 11 points from goal and scored three tries to their one so it's annoying to hear how lucky we were to win in the last minute with Morne Steyn's kick.

We are not playing well and relying on character and grit, but I am satisfied we can still draw victories from tight games like that. I did make the call to start thinking about bringing Morne on because the kicks we were missing were costing us. Ruan Pienaar was unbelievable in the first Test, but couldn't hit anything in the second. That's how sport goes. I had been watching the other kicks that hadn't gone well with Ruan kicking, but couldn't with this last one.

Morne was absolutely calm and when he took the ball I said: "Good luck, enjoy it." He gave me a wry smile, put the ball down and banged it over. I waited for the crowd and looked for the flags to go up. When they did, I was very relieved and a happy man. It takes special individuals to be able to step up to the spot like that, a different mental dynamic, and I'm just glad I only have to scrum. It has been a fairy tale season for Morne which he has created. Winning the Super 14s with the Bulls, getting his first cap in the opening win against the Lions and then winning the series with his kick. He deserves to start today.

People think the job is now done, but it's not like that. Every Test is important and we have made changes, but every player wants to be a part of history and a 3-0 series win is what we want. Our motivation is massive and there's no such thing as taking the foot off the gas. There's everything still to play for. @Email:sports@thenational.ae