British & Irish Lions
Phillips proud to have given his all
July 6, 2009
Mike Phillips felt honoured to face the Springboks © AFP
British & Irish Lions scrum-half Mike Phillips will leave South Africa proud of his achievements and with a lifetime of memories despite losing the Test series with the Springboks 2-1. Phillips started all three Tests and was a committed and aggressive presence around the field, enhancing his reputation as the best scrum-half in the northern hemisphere.
Describing the tour as the time of his life, Phillips gave his all for the Lions and was glad to have bounced back from their disappointment at losing the series with a resounding win in the third Test.
"Losing in Pretoria was so devastating, and we had to go out and get the third Test win," he said. "I have given it my all. It's demoralising not winning the series, but this was my first Lions tour and the first time I've played against South Africa.
"You watch the Lions as a kid, and you want to be there yourself one day. Perhaps I don't realise what I have achieved at the moment. I just wanted to give 100%, and hopefully I haven't let anyone down. It's a huge honour to play alongside these world-class players. It's such a special thing for people from four countries to come together, unite and get to know each other."
Phillips said he was honoured to have faced the Springboks but admitted that the frustration has not left the camp after they came so close to claiming victory in both the first and second Tests. The tourists lost 26-21 in Durban before falling 28-25 to a last-minute kick by Morne Steyn in Pretoria.
"The frustration was huge in the first two Tests. I thought we played all the rugby, which is what makes it so difficult," said Phillips. "We were out there to play, but we didn't have that little bit of luck. You've got to give credit to South Africa, though. They've taken the series, so full credit to them.
"South Africa is a great place to come and test yourself as a player, to stand up to them and see where you are. It's been a massive honour."
Phillips will now head in to pre-season with the Ospreys, and will face off against his current Lions team-mates in next season's Six Nations, an experience that he admits will be strange.
"It will be difficult playing against the boys next season, as opposed to being alongside them," he said. "For anyone who might doubt the Lions' future, it's just total rubbish and quite annoying. As a player, it's the biggest honour you can have.
"It's been superb. You can't quite believe you are part of something like this, and I've had the time of my life, to be honest."