“This is make or break for the Test series. We can set up one of the best weeks of our careers if we can pull it off on Saturday.” The words of Lions captain Paul O’Connell ahead of the second Test against the Springboks in Pretoria.
ON GETTING OVER THE FIRST TEST DEFEAT:
“Early on in the week, there’s been a sense of an opportunity missed hanging over the squad.
“Having been on a Lions tour before and had a lot of experience on the tour, winning a Lions Test is a hard thing to do.
“So when you pass up the opportunity like we did, it disappoints you.
“But it’ll strengthen the resolve for this weekend and guys are looking forward to the game.”
ON IT BEING IRELAND’S BIGGEST REPRESENTATION IN A LIONS TEST TEAM SINCE 1938:
“I didn’t know that fact, actually. I knew there were a lot of Irish boys on it but it’s a big thing (to have seven of us in the side).
“I suppose I remember the Lions tour in 1997 and there were four guys in the pack and that was a massive thing as well.
“I remember back then (Eric) Miller, (Jeremy) Davidson, Woody (Keith Wood) and Paul Wallace, so yeah, it’s a big thing for me.
“I’m very proud, I’ve been very proud the whole way through and hopefully we can produce a big result on Saturday.”
ON PREPARATIONS FOR THE SECOND TEST:
“It’s strange preparing for a Test on a Lions tour, because you’ve to prepare for a midweek game first.
“For the first two days this week, there was a lot of work being done for the Emerging Springboks game.
“Since that game finished, we’ve turned our attention to the Test.
“We had a good session this morning (Thursday) and the same again tomorrow and hopefully we’ll be all set then.”
ON THE DISAPPOINTING ASPECTS OF THE FIRST TEST:
“Just we conceded penalties and that try, just after half-time, from the maul was disappointing. You take those two parts out of the game and it was a different game. That was the very frustrating thing about it.
“We’ve just got to continue on the positive aim we finished the first Test and if we can do that, we have a great chance of winning.”
ON IMPROVEMENTS FOR THE SECOND TEST:
“We’ve got to cut out the penalties, we’ve got to stop them from mauling and we’ve got to make sure that our ball is secure.
“(Schalk) Burger will be doing a lot of work at the breakdown, we’ve got to make sure that our ball is secure. And if we can do that, anything can happen.
“I don’t know about percentage improvements, but the big things are the penalties, the maul and the breakdown. I think if we can sort them out, we’ll be okay.”
ON PLAYING AT LOFTUS VERSFELD:
“The Blue Bulls play there, it’s a stronghold for them. But a lot of the players in the South African team play their rugby all year at sea level as well. I think there’s four Bulls in the team.
“So it’s a challenge for the other players to go up there (at altitude) as well.
“Home support will be massive for them, they’ll be very vocal but they can also get very tough on their team as well when things aren’t going their way.”