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1997 Lions Boks get behind 2009 Lions Springboks

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Members of the Springbok squad that faced the British and Irish Lions in 1997 joined the current squad in Durban on Wednesday to extend their support ahead of the three Tests during the 2009 Lions Series.


The first of three Tests takes place at the Absa Stadium Durban on 20 June.

 

The Springbok squad to face the Lions arrived in the city on Tuesday to continue preparations for the series.

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers came up with the idea of getting the two squads together, said the session was well received by the players.


“The purpose was to get the 1997 Boks to share their experience and discuss where we can learn and make sure we improve our chances of success against the Lions,” said De Villiers.


“They also highlighted what makes a Lions series different and what it meant to them as players to face the Lions. They also handed jerseys to our guys as a symbolic gesture of their support.”


Carel du Plessis, who coached the Boks in 1997, said the 2009 squad had all the attributes to be successful against the British and Irish Lions.

 

“Peter has a fantastic group of players at his disposal with strength in every position,” said Du Plessis.

“The outcome of the series in 1997 was disappointing and hopefully we were able to pass on advice that will be useful as they prepare for the upcoming series.


“It is shaping up to be an interesting contest and we are certain the Boks will give a good account of themselves.”


Springbok captain John Smit said having the support of the 1997-squad was a great confidence booster.


“These were the last guys to have faced the Lions and it was great to get an insight into their experiences.”


“They also gave us some pointers on what to expect and how we might do certain things that will aid our preparations and performance. It was fantastic that they were able to join us,” said Smit.


Gary Teichmann, who led the Boks in 1997, added: “Hopefully this show of solidarity with the guys will motivate them further as they bid for a series victory over the Lions.


“This is a strong and confident squad that will be boosted by the success of the Bulls in the Super 14, which bodes well for the Lions series,” Teichmann said.


On Wednesday evening both squads attended the match between the Sharks and Lions in Durban, which the Lions won 39-3.


Members of the 1997 Springbok squad who were able to attend, were Carel du Plessis (coach), Gary Teichmann (captain), Rassie Erasmus, Pieter Rossouw, Fritz van Heerden, Justin Swart, Dawie Theron, Edrich Lubbe, Werner Swanepoel, Russell Bennett, Adrian Garvey, Danie van Schalkwyk, James Dalton, Jannie de Beer, Japie Mulder, Hannes Strydom, Joost van der Westhuizen, Krynauw Otto, Boeta Wessels, André Snyman, Mark Andrews and Percy Montgomery, who is the current Springbok kicking coach.

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