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O'Connell proud that Lions 'dug deep'

Updated: Saturday, 04 Jul 2009 18:19

Paul O'Connell in action against Juan Smith in the third Test
Paul O'Connell in action against Juan Smith in the third Test

British and Irish Lions captain Paul O'Connell hailed his team's ability to dig deep after they concluded their tour of South Africa with an emphatic victory over the world champions at Ellis Park.

The Springboks had already clinched the series but the Lions ensured they return home on a winning note after their first Test triumph since Brisbane in 2001.

O'Connell told Sky Sports: 'It was a very tough week mentally for everyone. We just really dug deep. Some guys produced some serious form and produced some great scores. We were determined to dig as deep as we could.

'I hope people don't misconstrue our lap of honour.

'We're under no illusions we lost the Test series.

'But a lot of people paid a lot of money to come out here, we wanted to thank them.'

Shane Williams scored twice as the Lions opened a 15-6 half-time lead and Ian McGeechan's side closed out a pulsating win with an intercept try from Ugo Monye while Stephen Jones kicked 13 points.

O'Connell continued: 'I think anyone works very well with their backs to the wall. We've probably never had our backs to the wall as much!

'With Jamie (Roberts) and Brian O'Driscoll out, they have probably been our best two players so it was going to be very tough for us.

'The guys are very conscious of the Lions ethos and wanted to do it proud.

'The first Test we could have won, the second we should have won... we were eager that kind of memory wouldn't be upset by a poor performance today, knowing we were beaten and throwing in the towel.'

The Munster man played down suggestions South Africa were lucky to win the series.

He added: 'The team that wins is the better team. You do what you have to do to win.

'The trophy goes to the team that wins. Ian McGeechan said before the game you earn respect by winning.

'Sure, people have been patting us on the backs for our performances but for some guys here it was the first win on the southern hemisphere, and that's important.'

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