Mike Philips has revealed that Bakkies Botha has quite a playful side after the Springbok lock told the British and Irish Lions scrumhalf he had “sexy blue eyes” during the first Test in Durban.
“I think Bakkies has a crush on me,” joked Philips ahead of the second Test against at Loftus Versfeld. “He went on about my sexy blue eyes to distract me. I had no response to that.”
“I think there is mutual respect after a few jokes between us. South Africa is a very good team but hopefully we can beat them this time,” continued Philips.
The Welshman scored a try in the first Test in which the Lions ended up losing 21-26.
Philips has great respect for Fourie du Preez, who many believe to be the best scrumhalf in the world. The Lions’ scrumhalf is not convinced, though: “Fourie is a World Cup winner. He is an excellent player and was very sharp last week. The best in the world? I don’t know,” said Philips.
“I do have a lot of respect for him. It’s great to test yourself against top players. I think I am in that league too. Fourie dictates the game and we will try to put pressure on him. It will definitely help us if he has a poor game.”
Meanwhile, Philips believes the Lions’ fitness could be the determining factor in the Loftus Test. “There were some parts of the game in which we did not do well last weekend. But we were good with the ball in hand and our forwards were fitter,” said Philips.
“We fought until the end and will go into the second Test with self-confidence. It felt to me like we were playing all the rugby. That is why it was such a disappointment to lose. We have to put things right now. I believe we can do it.”
Earlier this week, Du Preez, John Smit and Schalk Burger spoke about the difficulties of playing at Loftus after coming from the coastal cities. Philips is not too concerned about the altitude factor at Loftus, though.
“We worked very hard at conditioning before we came to South Africa. We came back very strongly in the last 20 minutes of the first Test,” said Philips.
“What we have to do now, is to win the second Test to stay in the series. We could easily have won the first Test and are desperate to show what we’re made of.”
“It is a privilege to wear the jersey and to represent the people back home. We are grateful for the support and want to put on a tremendous show.”
Stephen Nell reports for sport24.co.zaTweet