June International Tours

Lions Shaw to be ready for second Test



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When pundits were mulling over selection for the British and Irish Lions, the voice of former England and Lions flanker Lawrence Dallaglio was clearly heard clamouring for the inclusion of giant lock Simon Shaw.

Shaw has enjoyed a chequered international history, see-sawing in and out of the England set-up and winning only 52 caps since his debut against Italy in 1996.

He has also played in 16 games in three tours with the Lions without getting the chance to grace a Test line-up.

That changed when Lions head coach Ian McGeechan named the 35-year-old Wasps player in the starting XV for the second Test against the Springboks at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

“I was chuffed to bits,” admitted Shaw, who only started playing rugby aged 16.

“I couldn’t stop smiling, but I’ve been on the opposite side of that enough to realise not to go around pumping my fist in the air.

“It’s been a heck of a journey and a lot of hard work has gone into it.”

Shaw is the sole playing member of the squad who was part of the Lions’ victorious 2-1 series win over South Africa in 1997, making his debut against an Eastern Province Invitation XV in the first game of that tour.

He arrived 12 years ago as the number one lock to partner Martin Johnson, but took too much for granted and saw his potential Test place surprisingly taken by Ireland’s Jeremy Davidson.

“Early on in my career, I didn’t set goals, I just kind of rode the wave,” he acknowledged. “I took everything a little bit for granted and was guilty of being slightly complacent. When you’re on a roll you don’t look from the outside in.

“But this year I set myself the goal of winning a Test cap. I’ve made up for it now.” Shaw will be up against the formidable lock pairing of Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha, widely seen as the best in world rugby.

“I played against them twice in the 2007 World Cup and it was pretty tough, although as a pack we more than matched them.

“Botha and Matfield are ranked probably the best second-row unit in the world, but I don’t really fear any of my opponents,” said the durable Shaw, who stands 6ft 8in (2.03 m) tall, weighs in at 19st 5lb (123kg) and last season became the first player ever to play in 200 English Premiership matches.

“In the first 40 minutes of the first Test, the Boks had the edge, and I guess that’s why I’ve been brought in.” Shaw said that the whole squad was confident going into the Pretoria clash.

“There has been belief since the day we met up,” he said.

“There are a lot of winners in the squad, whether it be European Cup winners or Grand Slammers.

“The Boks will be pushing their defences on Saturday and it will take an even bigger effort from us to win.”

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