We made beating the British Lions ’personal’ says Lood de Jager
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DURBAN - Springbok lock Lood de Jager says the turnaround in performance from the first Test against the Lions to the second was due to a change in attitude from the entire Bok squad.
De Jager, who made a massive impact off the bench in the second half of the Boks’ emphatic 27-9 win, said the players made beating the Lions and leveling the series a “personal” crusade.
“We were disappointed with what we produced in the first Test — maybe it was a lack of a game time and rustiness, but we chose not to look for excuses,” the 28-year-old said. “We were disappointed in ourselves; as players, we disappointed our coaches and our country.
“So we took the defeat personally, and then the whole squad — players, management and coaches — decided to make the second Test ‘personal,’” the 46-cap De Jager said.
“By ‘personal’ we mean it is about going out to play for your family, the people of this country, the people who are underprivileged and have less than us.”
De Jager was a key member of a bench that ramped up the Boks’momentum in the second half, in stark contrast to the lack of impact made in the first Test.
“We bench players were very disappointed in our contribution the previous week, so yes, we were fired up to make a difference this time.”
After the match, Lions coach Warren Gatland commented that he could see the emotion on the faces of the Springboks at the final whistle. He could see how much it meant to the Boks. De Jager was asked if the Boks could replicate that emotion two matches in a row.
“Playing for the Boks is about more than yourself, you are representing the whole country,” he answered. “It is about keeping each other accountable as players and as coaches so that we keep driving up standards. That way we can hopefully keep that energy going into this last Test match, and it really should not be an issue because this a like a cup final for both teams.”
De Jager agreed that there was more niggle in the second Test than is the norm for international rugby.
“There was more niggle... It was just the magnitude of the game. There was so much at stake. They are playing for their countries; they are proud, world-class players. And for us it was personal. It was a massive game in that they were trying to win the series and it was even bigger for us because if we had lost, we were done.