June International Tours

Botha backs Boks to beat British & Irish Lions

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Springbok fly half legend Naas Botha says that he is confident that South Africa will win the series against the British and Irish Lions later this year.


The Lions will tour under the guidance of coach Ian McGeechan who was coach the last time the Lions went to South Africa – and the last time they won a series.


The Lions will play ten matches and the first Test is in Durban on the 20th of June.


Botha who won 28 caps for South Africa says that he is sure that the current World Champions are strong favourites to take the series as all of the stand out players in the Super 14 have been South Africans.


“I will be surprised if we don’t walk away as winners,” Botha told BBC Wales.


“Unfortunately for [the Lions] South Africa are in good shape at the moment.


“The outstanding players of the Super 14 have been our players and that is a good omen for us.


“We are playing a faster game at the moment and the guys physically are in unbelievable condition.”


Botha added that he had been watching the Six Nations and says that he has been impressed by the standard of the Six Nations and says that he believes Mike Phillips is on course to be the starting scrum-half and Brian O’Driscoll is a shoo-in as captain.


“Mike Phillips I think by far is (the Lions’) better scrum-half,” insisted Botha.


“Physically he is such a strong player. He has got a fantastic pass and his kicking game is not that bad. His cover defence is good as well.”


Botha also says that he thinks that Stephen Jones and Ronan O’Gara will make up the Lions’ first choices for fly-half and that O’Driscoll should be named captain.


“O’Driscoll is a fantastic captain,” he stated. “The way he played this whole Six Nations he should have played himself straight into the captaincy.”


Botha was also impressed with Lee Byrne and is a big fan of Shane Williams and thinks Tom Shanklin is a candidate for the centre along with O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy and Riki Flutey.


“Shane Williams is playing in a different class. If you feed him the right amount of good, clean ball on the outside he is going to score tries,” said Botha.


Botha reveals that South African players like Victor Matfield, John Smit and Schalk Burger have stuck around in South Africa as they want to play in the Lions series.


“(Many) players don’t get that tour on the cv.”


” That’s why I believe the players know that and that’s why they are hanging around. They want to make it a big one,” warned Botha.

 

Rugbyweek.com

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