O'Gara aims to make Lions impression

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The Independent Online

Ronan O'Gara wants his team to "make a statement" when he captains the British and Irish Lions at Newlands tonight.

The Ireland fly-half and Grand Slam winner leads the tourists against a strong Emerging Springboks side. And with head coach Ian McGeechan not selecting the second Test team until tomorrow, O'Gara is among those hoping to leave an impression.



"There are, I hope, some Test places to play for," he said.



"Being realistic, I suppose it would be about four or five, and people are aware of it.



"The most important thing, though, is that we make a statement as a team and there will be certain individuals who may benefit, but who knows who those people are at this minute.



"Having said that, if we don't perform as a team then none of us have a chance.



"What I have learnt in my career is that the collective is far more important than the individual, but individuals do benefit as a result of the collective."



O'Gara becomes the Lions fifth skipper on tour - he follows Paul O'Connell, Brian O'Driscoll, Phil Vickery and Donncha O'Callaghan - and a strong individual display would certainly put pressure on current Test fly-half Stephen Jones.



"I've got to keep the pressure on Stephen, and that has to be the goal on Tuesday night for as long as I'm playing," he added.



"Of course, I want to run out on Saturday to start the Test, but now I have this to think about, this huge honour of captaining the Lions, so my focus is probably taken a bit from that.



"It's a huge bonus and a very big day for me."



Among those hoping to catch McGeechan's eye tonight are Wales wing Shane Williams.



Reigning world player of the year Williams has been left behind in the Test team running by rival wings Tommy Bowe and Ugo Monye.



While the Lions' first Test strike partnership can boast eight tries between them on tour, Williams has not yet broken his duck.



"It's my last opportunity, I suppose," said Wales' record international try-scorer.



"It is a massive game - it could be my last Lions game ever.



"I need a big game, I know that, to have any chance of playing in the last two Tests. It is all up to me on the day.



"You come on these tours to play in the Test matches, and I want to play more than anything. I am more determined than ever to be involved."



McGeechan's line-up for the final midweek game features two props flown in during the past 72 hours.



Ireland's John Hayes arrived three days ago as replacement for ankle injury victim Euan Murray, but England and Wasps loosehead Tim Payne - summoned as cover for Andrew Sheridan - only touched down yesterday and went straight into training at a Cape Town school.



The Emerging Springboks side, meanwhile, contains several players who have already tackled the Lions on tour, including Golden Lions scrum-half Jano Vermaak, Cheetahs prop Wian du Preez and Sharks flanker Jean Deysel.



"We are blessed with the amount of depth we have in South African rugby," said Emerging Springboks coach Dick Muir.



"We are wary of the fact the Lions will be looking to bounce back after their defeat in the first Test, but I am confident that we will be competitive against them."



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