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Rugby greats say 2009 Lions can roar

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(CNN) -- Former rugby greats Roger Uttley and Kenny Logan have been talking up the chances of the British Lions on their three-Test tour of South Africa but aware that they will have to be at their very best to beat the current world champions.

Uttley was an emerging force at international level when he arrived in South Africa for the 1974 Lions tour, but forged his reputation in their historic victory.

Logan never played for the Lions due to injury, but is remembered as one of the top Scottish players of the modern era.

Uttley, who had only made his England debut the year before in 1973, playing at lock, was used as a back row forward, playing in all four Tests as the Lions finished the tour unbeaten.

His positional switch may have worked but the former England captain and coach feels stability is important if the current Lions squad wants to be as successful as the Class of '74.

Uttley told CNN, "It's a three match Test series. They have games to play before then and if they can get the balance of the side right leading up to the first game, if they can win that, then they've got a really good chance of taking the series -- which would be fantastic in this professional era."

If they do beat South Africa, Lions captain Paul O'Connell will need to play a big part. Uttley has recently become a fan of the man who plays in his old position.

"I had never actually met him personally until I went and had lunch with the squad before they went away and Paul O'Connell got up out of his chair, he'd never met me before, and said "Roger how are you? Very nice to meet you." He is in my opinion the ideal man to lead the Lions on this current trip and I wish him all the best. It's a fantastic opportunity for them and they're going out there to create their own history.

The Lions tradition took a beating during the tour of New Zealand four years ago. The team were hammered in all three Test matches but, overall, the brand has fared well since rugby union turned professional.

As Uttley knows, if you are a Lions winner everyone remembers it.

"The reason the Lions are out there is because it's a great brand and a great idea - four nations coming together to play against the best nations in the world. We need the Lions, the South Africans and the New Zealanders need the lions, and the Australians need the lions as well because it's a huge attraction. You look at the number of people going down there to watch a game; the gates will go through the roof as we get nearer to the Test matches."

Logan played in three World Cups and a Five Nations-winning side but says selection for the Lions is still the ultimate accolade.

"Everyone wants the Lions to tour. They have 50,000 people going to support the lions. No other team gets that. That's what's important. Every player would love to play for the lions. There are players that will be disappointed that didn't get in this year and they'll never have another chance but they're world class rugby players.

"The Lions are very special and you have to be very lucky in the years they come up."

Logan played at Wasps under Lions coach Ian McGeechan and believes his old boss will play an important part.

"He's a coach that understands the players. He's very good with the best players he knows how to manage and get the best out of them."

McGeechan and his coaching staff still have time to get the best out of their squad with the First Test against South Africa not starting until Saturday June 20th.

Kenny Logan and Roger Uttley were speaking to CNN at the launch of Logan's Challenge, a fundraising event for Sparks, the children's medical research charity.

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