Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We Want Revenge Because Lions Pain Still Hurts Us, Insists Pienaar; Former World Cup Winner Says South Africa Are Desperate to Finally Erase the Memories of the 1997 Tour Defeat. by Chris Jones

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We Want Revenge Because Lions Pain Still Hurts Us, Insists Pienaar; Former World Cup Winner Says South Africa Are Desperate to Finally Erase the Memories of the 1997 Tour Defeat. by Chris Jones

Article excerpt

FRANCOIS PIENAAR has warned the Lions they will face a country desperate for revenge when they arrive in South Africa next week. Pienaar had joined Saracens by the time the 1997 Lions arrived in South Africa to deflate totally the world champions by winning the series 2-1 under head coach Ian McGeechan, who is in charge again, a fact that only increases pressure on the Springboks.

South Africa won the World Cup again two years ago making the nation determined to put the record straight and maintain their bragging rights on the international circuit.

Pienaar, who lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 1995, said: "Of course there is a hangover following the 1997 Lions win. You guys came over here and kicked our butts in our own backyard. We have memories like an elephant and it is a powerful motivation."

The former flanker has a special place in South African rugby and also played a part the country's emergence as the Rainbow Nation that former President Nelson Mandela fought to achieve.

The moment when Pienaar (below) received the 1995 World Cup from President Mandela is at the heart of a Hollywood film that will be released in November and stars Matt Damon as the former Springbok captain.

Playing the diplomat, Pienaar, who has been heavily involved in bringing the IPL cricket tournament to South Africa at short notice, refuses to offer a verdict on which World Cup-winning Springbok side were the best.

"I always steer away from comparing different Springbok teams but it's a fact that the current team have a very good squad of players who won the World Cup and many of those guys and some of our best young talent have been performing well in the Super 14 competition," he added. "This has been crucial and the bulk of the players will come from the really successful Super 14 outfits and will go straight into the Lions tour from those matches.

"It is similar to the Lions squad which are based on the best teams from the Six Nations and it's going to be a fascinating series with the First Test in Durban crucial. …

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