Lions star Tom Curry opens up ahead of Test debut against ‘physical’ South Africa

Tom Curry holds no fear of the Springboks ahead of his Lions Test debut this Saturday.

The flanker is only 23 but now an established figure on the international stage who will start at openside against South Africa in Cape Town four years after his England bow as a teenager.

Curry’s second, third and fourth caps came against the Boks in 2018, and after that and playing with many South Africans at Sale he is not worried in the slightest about the challenge that awaits.

Flanker Tom Curry holds no fear of the Springboks ahead of his Lions Test debut on Saturday 

CURRY FACTFILE

Age: 23

Height: 6ft 1in

Weight: 15st 8lbs

International Caps: 33

‘I wouldn’t say there are too many secrets to how they want to play,’ Curry told Sportsmail.

‘They love physicality. They want to use their kicking game and physicality in their carries.

‘They’re physical people in every scenario – it’s not just the first 20 it’s the full 80 minutes.

‘It’s how much you can be on it in every single play and every single contact of the game. 

‘That’s massively important. It sounds obvious but it’s true.’

Over his 33 caps for England, Curry has found his groove in big build-ups like this.

Early in Test week he pores over footage of set-plays, understanding trigger moves, analysing subtle differences like where the opposing scrum-half stands around set-pieces, and then spends time on power exercises in the gym.

This Tuesday was the Lions’ big rugby session – full of niggle and bite – which allowed Curry to open his lungs and feel ready for battle.

Wednesday was a day off, and now it ramps up to Saturday’s crucial first Test.

Curry outlines that South Africa 'love physicality' and insists he is well up for the challenge

Curry outlines that South Africa ‘love physicality’ and insists he is well up for the challenge

From today only one thing will be in Curry’s mind.

‘Your body only does what your brain tells it to,’ he explained.

‘I simplify it a lot. I don’t need to think about the game the night before, as I’ll end up overthinking.

‘I know my tackling, my hands are going to be good as I’ve practiced that earlier in the week. All that matters is how quickly I get off the ground.

‘If you isolate that sole movement what is there to be nervous about. It’s just getting up off the ground.’

Curry has loved his first Lions tour. From being taught to DJ by Josh ‘Navicii’ Navidi alongside prop Tadhg Furlong, in a duo named ‘Scrum and Bass’ to his chaotic first match against the Sharks.

‘It was the whole day,’ Curry, a Land Rover ambassador, explained.

Curry is a Land Rover ambassador and the company will be using the #LionsAdventure tag on Twitter during the series

Curry is a Land Rover ambassador and the company will be using the #LionsAdventure tag on Twitter during the series

‘Covid hit us. Was the game on or off? The team was announced on the bus. It was a bit of a circus, but for some reason I thought it was really special.

‘The adversity allows us to come together as one. Whatever happens, happens, just throw yourselves at it.’

In that spirit he cannot wait to resume his battle with friend Faf de Klerk, the Boks’ World Cup winning scrum-half and Sale team-mate.

‘It’s always competitive isn’t it?’ he smiled thinking of their first skirmish when South Africa A beat the Lions last Wednesday.

Curry posed for promo shots with the latest Land Rover launch before chatting with Sportsmail

Curry posed for promo shots with the latest Land Rover launch before chatting with Sportsmail

‘Hopefully I can reduce the amount of chat I get when I get back to Sale, and I get some ammunition to go back at him!

‘There was some rubbish chat he gave me before the tour when we beat Harlequins, saying it would be the last game I would win this season! Very cringey!’

De Klerk was in the South African team that beat England 32-12 in the 2019 World Cup final – and then let Curry know about it back in Cheshire. Curry’s biggest lesson from that night in Yokohama?

‘You’ve got to perform in big games,’ he said.

Curry leaves no stone unturned in his preparation and is looking to make a mark on the tour

Curry leaves no stone unturned in his preparation and is looking to make a mark on the tour

‘There’s no point not performing one week and then not the other. If you play well one week it doesn’t mean you have any right the next.’

On that note, strikingly, Curry feels no jitters ahead of the next biggest match of his life so far.

‘I wouldn’t say I’m nervous,’ he concluded. ‘If you have no more to give what’s there to be nervous about? I want to get as excited as possible for the game. This is extremely fun and I love it.’

Tom Curry is a Land Rover ambassador. Follow the Land Rover Lions Adventure @LandRoverRugby on Twitter #LionsAdventure

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