British and Irish Lions: Tadhg Beirne aiming to inspire first series victory in South Africa since 1997

Tadhg Beirne, who starts Saturday’s second Test against South Africa from the bench once again, hopes to help the British and Irish Lions secure an unassailable 2-0 series lead at Cape Town Stadium.

Beirne replaced Courtney Lawes in the second half of the opening Test as the tourists claimed a 22-17 win over the current world champions.

And while the flanker would love to start against the Springboks, he’s hoping to have an impact off the bench once more.

Speaking on Will Greenwood’s Lions podcast, Beirne said: “It would be silly for me to expect to start, given how well the boys played.

“A realistic hope would be to be involved again. Hopefully I get a decent spell, if I am on the bench – have some kind of impact in the game, and come away with the win.

“We’d love to put the series away this weekend: we’re certainly confident we can do it again. It would be something worth celebrating.”

The Lions trailed by nine points at half-time in the opener before winning the second half 19-5 as the home side tired in just their second Test since the 2019 World Cup final.

Maro Itoje is expecting a fierce response from South Africa, citing the lesson of two decades ago when Martin Johnson’s men crushed Australia in the opening match only to lose the series 2-1.

With that in mind, Beirne is aware they can’t afford another slow start in Cape Town.

“We’d spoken all week about discipline and I think in the first half we might have given away six penalties. I think we only gave away three in the second half,” the Irishman stated.

“The first 10 minutes didn’t go to plan, we started giving away penalties, letting them into the game but the main thing was not to panic.

“We knew that can happen and we obviously knew they were going to be incredibly physical which they were, especially in that first half. We started to match it as the half went on.”

Alun Wyn Jones has the chance to become the first Lions captain to win in South Africa since the famous 1997 tour.

Jones, who made a miraculous recovery to re-join the squad less than three weeks after dislocating his shoulder, is the first player this century to appear in 10 Lions Tests.

Beirne has been full of praise for the Welsh legend, remarking: “Alun Wyn is an incredible leader. It’s his work ethic that probably shocked me the most.

“He’s incredibly energetic. He’s probably one of the toughest trainers out there.

“Everyone questions his age all the time but you certainly wouldn’t pick him out the pack for being the oldest in the squad. That’s been incredibly impressive.

“Seeing how he goes about his business, he’s just a true professional. He’s a great leader.”

Will Greenwood is hosting a weekly Lions podcast ahead of Warren Gatland’s tourists taking on the world champion Springboks over the summer – all the games from the 2021 tour will be shown live on Sky Sports.

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