Vickery - Lions the ultimate
Phil Vickery insists Lions tours must continue, saying it was the ultimate achievement for a player.
Last Updated: 06/07/09 11:33am
Phil Vickery insists the British and Irish Lions tours must continue, saying it was the ultimate achievement for a player to pull on the famous red jersey.
Ian McGeechan's men may have lost the Test series against South Africa, but the manner of their performances restored some pride to the Lions after a couple of miserable tours.
At least a superb 28-9 victory in the final Test at Ellis Park avoided a series whitewash and ended a run of seven straight Test defeats for the Lions.
Vickery, a World Cup winner with England, says pulling on the Lions shirt is the ultimate for a player, and rubbishes any critics who suggest it may not have a future.
"People can question me until the cows come home about Lions tours, and I will tell them straight - Lions tours should carry on," said Vickery.
"It is the most unbelievable experience you can ever have as a rugby player. I've been fortunate to achieve some fantastic things in my career, but nothing beats wearing the Lions jersey.
"It's just the ultimate, it really is. I hope and pray that Lions tours continue - they are a very special thing to be involved in.
"A Lions tour has to be slightly different. It has to be a little bit 'amateurish' in that you've got to have a bit of fun and drink a few beers, because you have got to get on with people and mix.
"You've all got to mix and buy into it, and that to me is what makes it very special. I wouldn't want it any other way."
Vickery also managed to erase the hurt of his dismantling at the hands of Tendai "The Beast" Mtawarira in the opening Test in Durban, which led to him being substituted early on in the game.
"There was a huge amount of pressure on me with what had happened in Durban, and I was actually quite tearful before the game," the Wasps prop admitted.
"Adam Jones (the injured Lion Vickery replaced) sent me a message wishing me good luck, and it was nice to come out the other end being satisfied with your day's work. That first scrum was fantastic.
"It was nice to come off feeling very proud of my own performance, but ultimately the team's performance.
"It has been a fantastic group of people, and I can't say any more than that. You remember the people you play with, and I've played with some superstars on this trip."
Vickery will be 37 by the time the Lions tour Australia in four years time, and a victory in South Africa would be the perfect way to sign off from his Lions career, as it seems highly unlikely he will make that next tour.
"Someone said to me the other day it was going to be my last Lions cap. I won on my first one (in 2001), and that wouldn't it be brilliant if I could win the last one and also get the 50th Test win of my career.
"The whole trip for me has just been fantastic. I can honestly say I have never been on a tour with so many good men.
"South Africa thoroughly deserved their series win, and I take nothing away from them at all, but I felt we just deserved something out of the tour."