Byrne relishing tough tests

Wounded Lion has "unfinished business" with Springboks

By Joe Drabble.   Last Updated: 03/06/10 11:07am

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Byrne: Fully prepared

Byrne: Fully prepared

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Full-back Lee Byrne believes there will be no hiding place for Wales as they prepare to tackle South Africa and New Zealand in the coming weeks.

"It doesn't get much tougher - the two best teams in the world - but they are the teams you want to be playing against."
Lee Byrne Quotes of the week

The Springboks await at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday before Byrne and Co head to the Southern Hemisphere for two Tests against the world number one-ranked All Blacks.

Wales have only beaten South Africa once before - at a partially-built Millennium Stadium in 1999 - while their last win against the All Blacks came 57 years ago.

But Byrne is relishing the opportunity to test himself against the world's best.

Punishing

"There are three more games of the season left, and if we could get three victories it would be a great achievement," he said.

"It doesn't get much tougher - the two best teams in the world - but they are the teams you want to be playing against."

Warren Gatland's starting line-up against South Africa features eight players who represented the British and Irish Lions on Springbok territory last summer.

Byrne's involvement was curtailed by injury early in a punishing Test series that South Africa eventually won 2-1, and he admitted: "It's unfinished business, yes.

"It is the first time I will have played against them since the Lions tour.

"It's going to be exciting, and hopefully we can give the fans something to cheer about.

"South Africa have left a lot of players behind, but the team they've got out on Saturday still includes world-class players throughout.

"That's a credit to them - they've got players coming through in every position - and if we get a win at the weekend it's a big statement before we head to New Zealand."

Buzz

After a disappointing RBS Six Nations campaign this season, Cardiff Blues' Amlin Challenge Cup final win against Toulon and the Ospreys' Magners League Grand Final victory over Leinster have generated a buzz throughout the Welsh camp.

"Probably 12 months ago, people would have said Irish rugby was on a high," added Byrne, who wins his 33rd cap on Saturday.

"I am sure this weekend we can take confidence after what ourselves and the Blues have achieved in the last couple of weeks.

"It seems to be every time we win a Grand Slam, the year after we end up finishing fourth, or something, in the Six Nations. We have to get out of that cycle.

"But the last game we played against Italy we showed some character, and we need to take that forward now.

"As a player, you just want to get out there and play again."

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