Rugby - South Africa prop Kitshoff relishing reunion with Lions' Furlong

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - South Africa Captains Run - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - November 2, 2018 South Africa's Steven Kitshoff during the captains run Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs/File photo

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa prop Steven Kitshoff has a long history with Tadhg Furlong and knows exactly what his powerful Irish counterpart brings to the table as they prepare to square up in one of the key areas of the British & Irish Lions series next month.

The Springboks used their scrum to outmuscle England in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final and will see it as a potent weapon during the three tests against the touring Lions that will be played on consecutive Saturdays from July 24.

With the retirement of Tendai Mtawarira following that World Cup final, Kitshoff is the front-runner for the role to face up against Furlong.

"He's a very good tight-head, he's shown that over the last couple of years when he's represented Ireland," Kitshoff told reporters.

"On the previous Lions tour (to New Zealand in 2017) he played really well for the team.

"I have known him for a long time, I played for the South African Under-20 side against him and in my debut for the Springboks (in 2016) I scrummed against Tadhg.

"He is a world-class player, but we should not take anything away from our tight-heads at the Springboks. On our day we can rock up and out-scrum anyone."

Kitshoff, 29, says the loss of the vastly experienced Mtawarira, and potentially injured number eight Duane Vermeulen, puts pressure on others to step into bigger leadership roles in the side.

"The Springboks have an unbelievable group of leaders and key guys that run certain positions, so everyone has a role and responsibility in a certain department.

"If you do the job well in the week (leading up to the match) it makes it so much easier to control certain situations," he said.

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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