The dismal weather we had in Cape Town all week matched my spirits when the Lions' squad for the second Test was read out to us on Wednesday night and I wasn't in it. I'm a disappointed man, and frustrated, too. I never quibble with coaches, I just try to find out what I need to do to get back in but there is no midweek game next week for me to put it right.
Normally I'm a great one for looking on the bright side, but the way the scrum went in last Saturday's first Test will keep me angry for a while. Phil Vickery and I scrummaged against Tendai "the Beast" Mtawarira last autumn with England and we didn't have any problem. For whatever reason in Durban, we got penalised by the referee and the team were under pressure. Vicks has received a lot of attention as a result, and he – like me – is not in this week's XXII, but no one goes out in a Lions shirt to not play well and I'd back Vicks to the hilt. The Boks scrummaged better than us on the day. As for "the Beast", he is a Test player in a country where they revere prop forwards and he is getting better and is a real asset to the Springboks.
We got a couple of line-out calls wrong in Durban and when you only have four line-outs in the first half, that's going to hurt. For one of them, Jamie Heaslip was in the backline when he should have been at the back of the line-out. On another one, Victor Matfield did very well to pick it off. So the scrum and line-out are areas where this week's Lions team can improve. Ian McGeechan and the coaches have gone with a much heavier-duty side, bringing in people like Simon Shaw to bolster the pack and stop the Boks driving their line-out. We were underprepared for their driving maul last week, thinking we could just bash it. Sometimes you've got to do more than that. You can attack their lifters, or spin or twist in the maul. There's been more work on that than usual in training, I can assure you.
The first Test plan was to move the South Africans around and work them hard. I enjoyed my pass that put David Wallace through a hole, and I enjoyed watching Brian O'Driscoll make some great breaks and Jamie Roberts causing some havoc. I'd just like to have spent more time on the field, especially when Adam Jones came on and the scrum was shored up. This week's team must make the most of their chances. In Durban we crossed the Springbok line eight times in all but didn't have the points to show for it.
We know now that South Africa are very beatable. But we have to remember they won't be happy with their game either, they will be annoyed about that and they will get better. Matfield's second-row mate Bakkies Botha is a tough competitor, who tries to get into you at every opportunity. They are all fierce competitors. The worst thing that can happen for the Lions would be to lose tomorrow and have one game with only pride to play for. We're out here as a squad, I'm backing the Lions and I think we'll win.
Diamond a man's worst friend
We're off to Pretoria today, leaving behind the Cape Town rain. I woke up on Tuesday morning to what I thought was my room-mate whistling, only to find it was the wind howling through the window, and that night I was on the bench against the Emerging Springboks in the deluge. Not much fun.
A few of us were keen as mustard to go diving with sharks another day but the high winds and the swell put the kibosh on that. So it was back to the shopping mall, where I was hunting for a present for my anniversary, which is today and happens to coincide with my wife, Danielle, arriving here with my little boy and my mum and dad. The anniversary is five years, which means the gift should be wood.
Of course, if you've got no imagination in South Africa you end up buying diamonds, which could be expensive. Maybe a piece of wood shaped like a diamond?
The Lions got talent
We have a few resident jokers, including our fitness coach Paul Stridgeon. There was a dance song playing on the bus, we were clapping and singing, and it was still going when we arrived at the hotel.
The police escort went one way, we went the other and got stuck at a red light where a load of workmen were waving at us. Next thing, Paul had one of them on the bus, leading the singing. The music monitors Riki Flutey and Jamie Roberts took that as a huge vote of confidence.
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