Lions 'will win for each other'
With all the focus being on off-field issues, MTN Lions captain Josh Strauss believes his team will take the confidence and momentum from their win over the Sharks to search for another upset against the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday.
Strauss knows all too well what a weak on-field response will mean to the side after all the off-field shenanigans over the past week. The focus is on the Lions for all the wrong reasons at the moment, and as a team, there is a determination to get that right again.
Still, being hit by two more injuries – losing props Pat Cilliers and CJ van der Linde before the match doesn’t help much either with a long injury list ahead. A decision on Van der Linde will only be known later on, but it is almost certain he won’t make it onto the bench with injury.
Strauss played the lets-do-it-for-each-other card on Thursday, as the team prepared for its trip down to Cape Town for the match.
“Everyone is focused on Saturday. We know we've got a tough task ahead of us,” Strauss told the media at the team announcement.
“The Stormers are a very good team and it is a game that we really want to win as a team and we are going to win it for each other.
“The guys have been training really well, especially Tuesday was a great training day and the feeling in the camp is great.”
However, Strauss did maintain that perhaps the three-week break wasn’t the best thing, especially after the team’s emphatic victory over the Sharks just before the break.
“Looking at the pros and cons, I think we would have liked to take that momentum into the next week, and we had the three-week break for the Springbok tests,” he said.
“I think it was a brilliant game for us, especially looking back at the season that we've had injury- and loss-wise.”
“The feeling in the camp is still very good. The guys are pumped,” he said. “We take great confidence out of a win like that, especially against a strong team like the Sharks – a team that is really a contender for the semis, final etcetera.”
Still, the odds are stacked against the Lions, with their union still unsure of its future in Super Rugby, the team lying at the bottom of the Super Rugby log and the coaching saga that is playing itself out at the moment, not to mention the financial woes the union currently finds itself in.
So in reality, there may not be any other option but to play for each other and bring the focus back onto the rugby field where it belongs.
MTN LIONS: Andries Coetzee, Deon van Rensburg, Lionel Mapoe, Butch James, Anthonie Volminck, Elton Jantjies, Tian Meyer, Joshua Strauss (captain), Grant Hattingh, Derick Minnie, Franco van der Merwe, Hendrik Roodt, Jacobie Adriaanse, Callie Visagie, JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: Martin Bezuidenhout, CJ van der Linde/Ruaan Dreyer, Ruan Botha, Jaco Kriel, Michael Killian.