Lions coach Eugene Elloff says the Spears saga had no bearing on their preparation for the Vodacom Super 14.
The Southern Cape franchise were involved in a protracted battle with Saru and SA Rugby (Saru’s commercial arm) over their participation in the regional tournament, until they abandoned their legal action yesterday.
The Lions were the franchise standing to lose out had the Spears been successful and, as the lowest placed South African team, would have been relegated from tournament.
While Elloff conceded that relegation had been a reality that he had to deal with daily, he said it never affected his team’s preparation.
“We were never burdened by the whole Spears saga,” Eloff told keo.co.za. “While everything was going on around us we went ahead with our preparation as usual and this debacle didn’t affect my team in the slightest.
“I am a rugby coach not a politician and my players focus on their games and not the political sideshows,” he added.
Asked what the consequences of a Spears victory would have meant for the Johannesburg-based franchise, Eloff was adamant that they would have taken it on the chin.
“At the moment this team is so motivated as a result of the way they finished off the Currie Cup that it wouldn’t have rocked the boat at all.
“We would have re-focussed our attention on preparing for next year’s Currie Cup and while it would be stupid to think that they [the players] would not have been disappointed, everyone here knows we are working towards a goal of being the best South African team.”
Eloff was reluctant to comment on what he thought of how the Spears had conducted themselves throughout the saga and added that he doubted his players would’ve been open to any player-sharing proposal from the Spears.
The Lions have routinely delivered poor performances in Super Rugby, but Eloff insisted that the Spears decision would not place them under any further pressure to prove that they could compete with the best teams in the southern hemisphere.
“We don’t have to justify anything to anyone,” he snapped. “We will go out and play our game and try to wave the flag for South Africa.”