The Lions have undoubtedly the most arduous start to this season’s Absa Currie Cup competition, kicking-off with the Sharks in Durban on Friday.
The Sharks are a much improved outfit and are many people’s favourites to win the title at this early stage following an impressive run in the Super 14. The Lions then host the Blue Bulls the following Saturday at Ellis Park, before travelling to Bloemfontein the next weekend for a clash with the Currie Cup champions, the Cheetahs.
Lions captain Wikus van Heerden refused to feel sorry for his team. “The only way to test yourself is against the best,” he told keo.co.za, “and those teams are undoubtedly that.”
But the Lions have a new coach and several exciting youngsters mixed with some old hands. “Loffie has brought some new ideas to the table. We have now had time to get used to his ideas. And I think it is a more exciting brand and more expansive,” said the tearaway flanker who will be wearing the No 6 jersey at Absa Stadium instead of his customary No 7.
And the focus is firmly on the clash with the Sharks. “We can’t afford to get ahead of ourselves. It is not going to be easy against the Sharks who showed what they were capable of in the Super 14. We are both missing a few players, but no matter what it is always tough in Durban.”
Van Heerden maintains that the teams that travel well will be in with the best chance of securing a home semi-final or final hence the importance of the opening match. “We need to travel well. After all it is the same game between four white lines no matter where you play.”
Consistency is thus key to a successful campaign and victory on Friday night would be the perfect start to difficult opening sequence for a Lions team desperate to bury the ghosts of the Cats poor Super 14 run.
By Andrew Hollely