Not only has Eugene Eloff not lost a game as Lions coach, he is also doing his bit for the good of the game.
Lions captain Wikus van Heerden will play in the unfamiliar No 6 jersey against the Sharks on Friday night, but it was not Eloff’s call.
“I did that at Jake’s request,” Eloff told keo.co.za, “because I don’t necessarily think it is his best position. But I am committed to helping the national coach in anyway I can and therefore I agreed to the switch without hesitation.”
White is known to favour Van Heerden as a possible back-up to Schalk Burger as a fetcher in the Springbok set-up. Following the serious neck injury which has ruled the fiery flanker from the game for the next six months at least, Van Heerden’s performance on Friday will be closely watched by White and co.
Eloff is likely to move Van Heerden back to blindside and bring on Roland Bernard later on in the game though. “I will keep my options open because the first game of a season is always important to get off to a winning start,” said Eloff, who is also the SA U19 coach.
Eloff does have two warm-up wins under his belt and since taking over from the axed Frans Ludeke has yet to see his team concede a point in 160 minutes of rugby.
“Our goal is obviously to win in Durban, but winning isn’t everything. I want total commitment from my players and if they give their all and lose then I can take something from that.”
Eloff cannot be expected to engineer miracles, but Lions/Cats fans are desperate for a proper win. And it would be doubly sweet against a team that smashed their team at Ellis Park in the Vodacom Super 14.
By Andrew Hollely