Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Seize the Moment ; Lions Legend Uttley Urges the Class of 2013 to Grasp the Nettle and Overpower the Wallabies

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Seize the Moment ; Lions Legend Uttley Urges the Class of 2013 to Grasp the Nettle and Overpower the Wallabies

Article excerpt

SENIOR members of the British and Irish Lions squad have been urged to learn from past failures and grasp their opportunity in Australia.

The Lions have lost each of their last three tours since beating South Africa in 1997.

And for some potentially integral players in the squad - including Brian O'Driscoll, Paul O'Connell, Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins - it provides a final chance of returning victorious from a tour.

They comfortably beat the Barbarians 59-8 in Hong Kong on Saturday ahead of five further warm-up games before the Test rugby starts on June 22.

Broadcaster Roger Uttley - famed for his role in the back row during the physically brutal Lions' 1974 winning tour of South Africa - told M.E.N. Sport that these players are fortunate to have another crack.

"For a young player, being picked for the Lions is an exciting prospect. As a senior player - if you're fortunate enough to be going on your second - it's a chance to win a series," former England captain Uttley said.

"You're very fortunate to get one opportunity and if you get two then you really have to make the most of it.

"They've had a long domestic season being beaten up by lots of different people - many of whom are your fellow teammates on the upcoming tour." Though the Lions haven't won a series since overcoming the then world champions South Africa 2-1 1997, Uttley is cautiously optimistic that the class of 2013 can come back from Down Under with a series win, but he is predicting that the three-match tour will be as tight as ever.

In South Africa four years ago the margin between success and failure was Ronan O'Gara conceding a needless penalty, which the hosts converted and won with the last kick of the second Test.

"Looking at the side Warren Gatland's picked is pretty well balanced with a lot of strength across the board," Uttley added.

"It's going to be a competitive team. You can look forward with some sort of confident anticipation without going overboard.

"But it can happen. …

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