Phillips desperate to avoid Lions whitewash

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The Independent Online

Mike Phillips is convinced the British and Irish Lions can end their South Africa tour in winning fashion at Ellis Park on Saturday.

But they must tackle the world champion Springboks without three key players - Brian O'Driscoll, Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins.



A concussed O'Driscoll and dislocated shoulder victim Jones were both due to fly home today.



Jones' fellow prop Jenkins, meanwhile, will remain with the squad, although a fractured cheekbone means he has no chance of featuring in the third Test.



South Africa are 2-0 up in the series with one game left following narrow victories in Durban and Pretoria.



But scrum-half Phillips says the Lions have no intention of being whitewashed for a second successive tour following a 3-0 drubbing in New Zealand four years ago.



"It's horrible losing in sport, and we have got to deal with that this week," he said. "You just want to win as a professional player.



"You come out here, it's the Lions, it's legendary stuff, it's every four years, a great opportunity, a chance to fulfil your dreams and make them come true. It's all about winning.



"People said we had no chance (in Pretoria), and we were by far the better team. We lost it in the last second.



"We can win on Saturday. We have got enough tools to go out there and get the victory, so we will be gunning for it."



Lions head coach Ian McGeechan is due to name his starting line-up tomorrow.



England props Andrew Sheridan and Phil Vickery are favourites to fill the front-row vacancies, while O'Driscoll's replacement could come down to a straight choice between Riki Flutey and Keith Earls.



McGeechan might consider switching Luke Fitzgerald into midfield with Shane Williams on the wing, but Flutey or Earls seems a more logical choice as Welshman Jamie Roberts' midfield partner.



As in New Zealand four years ago, O'Driscoll has seen his Lions adventure ended by injury inside the distance.



O'Driscoll, the 2005 Lions skipper in New Zealand, was concussed following a crunching collision with Springboks substitute Danie Rossouw during the agonising 28-25 second Test defeat in Pretoria four days ago.



His 2005 tour ended in the first minute of the opening Test after he was spear-tackled by All Blacks players Keven Mealamu and Tana Umaga.



The Heineken Cup-winning Leinster centre has been one of the Lions' stars of their 10-match South Africa trip, forging an outstanding centre combination with Roberts.



"Being a part of the 2009 British and Irish Lions squad has been one of the highlights of my career," said O'Driscoll.



"We were unbeaten leading into the Test matches, and it is a shame that the results in the Tests did not go our way, but sport comes down to fine margins at times.



"We could easily have won the first two Tests, but it wasn't to be.



"I have decided to return home to my family this week after a very long season and to ensure I give myself every opportunity to recuperate."



Jones suffered his injury after being the victim of a dangerous charge by Bakkies Botha that earned the uncompromising Springboks lock a two-week ban.



Jones, who had performed a mighty job in the Lions front row at Loftus Versfeld, had to have the shoulder joint put back into place under anaesthetic.



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