British and Irish Lions
Fitzgerald forced to play waiting game
June 24, 2009
Fitzgerald insists he had done all he can to force his way into the Test reckoning © Getty Images
Luke Fitzgerald insists he is "pretty relaxed" about his possible selection for the British & Irish Lions' must-win game against South Africa in Pretoria on Saturday.
Lions head coach Ian McGeechan and his management team will decide on the line-up for the Loftus Versfeld clash this evening and the 21-year-old Irishman could make the step up after catching the eye in the tourists' 13-13 draw with the Emerging Springboks in Cape Town on Tuesday.
The Lions are expected to make a number of changes following their 26-21 defeat in the opening Test clash in Durban last weekend with hooker Matthew Rees and prop Adam Jones tipped for starting places. Elsewhere, winger Shane Williams and Fitzgerald are putting pressure on England speedster Ugo Monye who failed to take two vital opportunities that came his way last week.
"From a personal perspective, I was pretty happy with my performance," said Grand Slam winner Fitzgerald, whose father Des played for the Lions against the Rest of the World in Cardiff 23 years ago.
"It was a bit pressurised going into the game. You want to put yourself into contention for a Test spot on the weekend. You want to look hungry for work, and you are hungry for work, but it is important you don't force things in those situations, especially given the weather conditions.
"I feel I've done the best I can. It's up to the coaches now, and to be honest, it is a weight off my shoulders. I don't have to think about it now - I've done the best I can. Whatever happens, happens now. You will be disappointed if you don't get selected, but that's life.
"I am pretty relaxed about the whole situation. I'm glad I got another opportunity before the Test match to show what I can do, and I feel like I gave a pretty good account of myself. I've been excited about being here with the Lions, and the only down-side was getting a chest infection during the first few weeks that kept me out of things for a while. I felt I had to do a little bit of catching up."
Meanwhile, IRB World Player of the Year Williams has failed to produce the form that he struck in 2008 but offered glimpses of his exciting ability in Tuesday night's game.
"I came off the field relatively happy with my performance," said the 32-year-old, following the Emerging Springboks clash. "That's all you can do, really. There is no point forcing it and looking for the ball too often in those conditions.
"I worked as hard as I possibly could, gave 100% and came off the field relatively happy. "It was like playing with a bar of soap at times. We had to play territory rugby - the conditions didn't suit a running game."