Phillips - Lions in my heart
Mike Phillips headed home from South Africa on Monday full of pride from his time with the Lions.
Last Updated: 06/07/09 8:08pm
Mike Phillips headed home from South Africa on Monday full of pride from his time with the British and Irish Lions.
The Wales scrum-half went on to establish himself as Europe's top number nine during a blockbusting three-Test series against world champions South Africa that ended with Saturday's record-equalling Lions victory.
He was one of only five tourists who started every Test, scoring a try in Durban and then backing that up with high-class displays at Loftus Versfeld and Ellis Park.
And, despite going down 2-1 in one of the closest series in years, Phillips flew out of Johannesburg knowing he and his team-mates had given it everything.
"I have given it my all," he said. "It's demoralising not winning the series, but this was my first Lions tour and the first time I've played against South Africa.
"You watch the Lions as a kid, and you want to be there yourself one day. I just wanted to give 100 per cent, and hopefully I haven't let anyone down. It's a huge honour to play alongside these world-class players.
"It's such a special thing for people from four countries to come together, unite and get to know each other.
"South Africa is a great place to come and test yourself as a player, to stand up to them and see where you are. It's been a massive honour."
The Lions will not reconvene until 2013, for a tour of Australia, and Phillips admits it may take some time getting used to club and RBS Six Nations rugby after such a profound experience.
"It will be difficult playing against the boys next season, as opposed to being alongside them," the Ospreys star added.
"For anyone who might doubt the Lions' future, it's just total rubbish and quite annoying. As a player, it's the biggest honour you can have.
"It's been superb. You can't quite believe you are part of something like this, and I've had the time of my life, to be honest."