Royal XV flyhalf Naas Olivier says the team will be targeting victory when they face the British & Irish Lions in Rustenburg on Saturday.
While Olivier is one of the standout players in the Royal XV side, Shane Williams, Brian O’Driscoll and skipper Paul O’Connell are just some of the big names the Lions possess within their ranks.
Despite the array of stars at Lions coach Ian McGeechan’s disposal, Olivier says the Royal XV, who comprise mostly of players from the Griquas and the Leopards, will not be intimidated by their lofty opponents and is promising a warm South African welcome for the tourists.
‘We are a bunch of eager young guys,’ Olivier told keo.co.za. ‘We’ve spoken about focusing not just on being competitive because we want to win this game. We know it’s going to be tough but we really want to let them know that it’s not going to be easy in South Africa.
‘Our goal is to win this game and that is what we are going to focus on.’
Olivier believes the Lions will pose the biggest threat up front, particularly at ruck time, but the 27-year-old says his side are capable of competing and could hurt their opponents out wide.
‘We’ve got a solid pack and some pace out wide,’ says Olivier. ‘I would like to see us throw the ball around a bit and give it to the likes of Bjorn Basson, Egon Seconds and Deon van Rensburg. I think they will definitely focus on being physical up front and we’ve got some speed out wide.
‘They certainly have some speedsters as well, but in the warm Rustenburg weather, and if we stretch them a bit and run them off their feet, taking into consideration that they only arrived on Monday, we can really give them a nice welcome.’
The team have been training on the Impala Rugby Club’s fields in Rustenburg and Olivier says that, with the bulk of the squad being fairly familiar with one another, they’ve been able to fall into a rhythm without much fuss.
‘More or less 90% of the guys that are here know each other. There are a couple of new guys but it hasn’t been difficult for them to slot in. The core of the Leopards and Griquas are basically the team that will play this weekend so there haven’t been any issues.’
Olivier will have a familiar partner in front of him this weekend in the form of Sarel Pretorius and the former Stormers flyhalf says the pair complement each other well.
‘Sarel is my scrumhalf at Griquas and at the Cheetahs and we play well together so I’m very happy to have him as my partner for the game.
‘He’s a very nippy scrumhalf and he loves to snipe around the fringes, which makes my life easier. Particularly when the defence focuses their attention on trying to shut down the flyhalf, Sarel can easily slip past a few guys in front of him and be a game breaker.’
By Andrew Worling