Lions coach Eugene Eloff is remaining steadfast in the face of mounting criticism that his team is not producing the goods in the Absa Currie Cup.
The Lions – traditionally one of the powerhouses of South African rugby – suffered their fourth defeat in five matches at the weekend and face a daunting task against a resurgent Western Province at Newlands on Saturday.
Defeat and a win for the Pumas over the Valke could see the Lions drop to bottom of the log.
But Eloff is adamant that he must stick to his guns, both in game plan and personnel. “The game plan is working and the structure is good. It’s the execution that is leaving a little to be desired,” Eloff told keo.co.za. “But that is to be expected from an inexperienced team.”
“Silly mistakes have cost us on countless occasions this year, but I really feel we are improving each week.” Whether that means the Lions can actually step up and beat WP in Cape Town remains doubtful.
“We have identified the areas that need to be worked on, but these things take time and we need patience.” The Lions inability to finish off is a major cause for concern and they will need to work hard this week on that aspect of their play if they hope to trouble Province.
And they are simply giving away too many penalties to compete at this level. Against Griquas they had the lion’s share of both territory and possession, but failed miserably to make that count.
Eloff puts it down to inexperience. “We have more players in their first year of Currie Cup than any other team and that has been evident, but there is talent there and I will continue to show faith with the guys I have.”
“And with a little luck coupled with our hard work I believe we can still turn things around.”
Eloff is not expecting to welcome any of the old (and injured) hands back for the trip to the Cape, but the likes of Jannes Labuschagne, Lukas van Biljon and Marius Hurter should be back in the fray in a week or two, which will help shore up the problems up front.
By Andrew Hollely