Williams hails Lions experience

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The Independent Online

Shane Williams will fly home tonight after playing his part in "a fantastic tour" of South Africa.

Williams marked probably his final appearance in a British and Irish Lions shirt with two tries as Test series winners South Africa were smashed 28-9 at Ellis Park.



The Wales wing underlined a huge sense of satisfaction that the Lions had ended in style by inflicting a record-equalling defeat on the Springboks.



"It has been a fantastic tour - I've made some great friends and been to some great places," he said.



"We played for the victory and it was a great performance. It's very difficult to win any games in South Africa, let alone Test matches, but the performance and the effort was there.



"We really feel we could have won the series, so Saturday was all about going home with our heads held high.



"Losing last weekend in Pretoria was a kick in the teeth. It takes you 24 hours to realise you've lost the series, but what we decided to do from that day on was to win the third Test.



"I thought we had deserved to win the second Test, but they are narrow margins between winning and losing, and these are the toughest games you are ever going to play in."



Front-row warrior Phil Vickery, meanwhile, warned off those critics who question whether rugby union's greatest institution has 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 the World Cup-winning England prop.



"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."



Williams' try double and a second-half interception score by his fellow wing Ugo Monye - plus 13 points from fly-half Stephen Jones - sent South Africa crashing.



France had been the last team to beat South Africa in Johannesburg, toppling them 32-23 eight years ago, but the Lions can now head home after joining that exclusive club.



"I think the players take huge credit for the level at which they have performed," said Lions head coach Ian McGeechan.



"It is the best three Test matches in terms of quality that I think I have ever been involved in.



"Last Saturday night or Sunday was probably the lowest I have ever felt. It took us two or three days to get over that.



"The players came back well and were absolutely excellent. The players were very ready for a Test match - they have been absolutely outstanding.



"I'm really proud of the way they finished it.



"I said to them 'we're carrying a Lions jersey forward for four years' and that should help the legacy going forward to the next group who turn up in Australia in four years."



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