Lions coach Eugene Eloff was upbeat about his team’s chances of securing its first Absa Currie Cup win on Friday night.
The Lions host the Valke at Ellis Park (kick-off is at 7.10pm) and the coach has admitted it is a “must win” game. “Let’s be honest, all games are must win, but the situation we are in means there is more riding on this clash than usual,” Eloff told keo.co.za.
The Lions are fast becoming the laughing stock of SA rugby and the only thing that can change that perception is winning rugby. After three rounds Loffie’s young cubs have yet to taste the sweetness of victory.
And tomorrow they will be without inspirational captain Wikus van Heerden. â€œWikusâ€™ absence will definitely leave a gap, but it creates a great chance for the next guy to stand up and be counted.â€
“We have worked incredibly hard and even the captain’s run this afternoon was far more intense than usual.” The captain’s run is traditionally a gentle session the day before the match just to walk through planned moves and so on.
“We have had no last minute injuries and the guys are ready and raring to go. Our preparation has been positive and I was particularly pleased with the effort put in today.”
Eloff is pleased with how the team has reacted to the criticism following the 59-5 drubbing at the hands of the Cheetahs last weekend. â€œThe mood is positive and the attitude is to put that defeat behind us and concentrate on the next game.â€
The Lions should not expect a soft touch and Valke coach John Williams has already stated he gives his team an even chance of upsetting the nine times champions in their own backyard.
The Valke though have never won the Currie Cup. The closest they came was going down 25-19 in the 1972 final against the Lions in Springs.
By Andrew Hollely