Vickery can tame the Beast
Lions coach Graham Rowntree is backing Phil Vickery to subdue Tendai 'The Beast' Mtawarira on Saturday.
Last Updated: 02/07/09 5:51pm
British and Irish Lions scrummaging specialist Graham Rowntree is backing Phil Vickery to subdue Tendai 'The Beast' Mtawarira on Saturday.
The former England captain endured a scrummaging nightmare against the South African prop in the opening Test defeat in Durban 12 days ago and had to be taken off just after half-time.
Adam Jones came on to out work the Beast - and the Wales prop continued to get the better of him in the second Test, before a shoulder injury ended his tour.
Vickery is now the favourite to return to the front row in the final Test in Johannesburg.
But while admitting Mtawarira held the edge over the World Cup winner in the first game, Rowntree insists Vickery will hold his own if selected in the series finale against world champions South Africa at Ellis Park on Saturday.
"I think it will be a huge psychological challenge if Vickery starts the game, but one he is capable of overcoming," said Rowntree.
"He's a strong character, one of the strongest characters I have come across in the game, both as a fellow player and someone who I've coached.
"I've no doubt, and I will back the bloke on this, that he would get back out there and give a good performance, subject to selection.
"It's going to be tough. Let's not beat around the bush, it was an uncomfortable day in the office for Phil, by his own admittance and by my admittance.
"But there is no-one else out there with his strength of character as an individual. I've never come across anyone better, and I am backing that, if we choose to start with him on the weekend."
Lions head coach Ian McGeechan is set to confirm his team for the clash on Thursday.