Experience has taught Lionel Mapoe how to absorb a kick in the teeth.

The scorer of two tries for the Springboks in their recent defeat to Argentina in Mendoza, he was duly left out of the squad that travelled Down Under.

“That happens‚” said Mapoe with an insouciant shrug of the shoulders on Tuesday. “I’ve been in this game for a while now.

“I’m much more experienced in handling that kind of… I don’t want to say negative‚ but turn it into a positive. It would have been a lot more difficult for me if I wasn’t playing rugby.

“Obviously it was a disappointment, but I chose not to take it as a negative‚” said the Golden Lions centre.

“I’ve got nothing to prove. I can take it as a negative or as a positive. We want to win the Currie Cup. All my focus is here. Whenever the call comes‚ I’ll be there. If I perform well I will be rewarded.”

Fortunately Mapoe’s got enough of a diversion to keep his creative juices flowing at the Lions. At the mature age of 30 he is one of the beacons the tyros in the team are looking up to.

“The last few games have actually been good for me. I’m basically an old cat with a bunch of young guys.

“It is nice to play with guys who are exciting and bring out the youth in you again. I’ve been enjoying it.”

The Lions have had things their own way in the first three matches of the Currie Cup, but on Saturday they go up against the defending champions, Western Province.

Mapoe shared where he believed Saturday’s game would be won or lost.

“We always say it starts upfront in the pack. We will have to man up and be much more physical. The side that is more physical will take it.

“We’ll have to be physical in everything we do. We must win the set pieces and get go- forward ball. That’s how we’ll win it‚” he said.