No favours for Lions

When the Sharks and Lions clash tomorrow in the first big game of the Currie Cup pre-game hype will count for nothing.

Popular perception has Dick Muir’s Sharks getting off to a winning start against Eugene Eloff’s Lions, but a win for the visitors cannot be discounted. Stranger things have happened.

Although the match is being played at Durban’s Absa Stadium, it wasn’t that long ago that the Lions came and conquered against all odds at the same place in the biggest game in the competition.

It was the 1999 Currie Cup final and with several long-serving stalwarts about to leave, the match was viewed as the perfect swansong for the Natalians.

Instead the Lions crashed the party, winning 32-9 consigning the Sharks to the first of three consecutive Currie Cup final defeats.

Flank AJ Venter was a member of that Lions team. Tomorrow he leads the Sharks against his former team. “I don’t really think of the Lions as my old province,” Venter told keo.co.za.

“I feel they will be areal threat as I know they are hurting from the Super 14. And having Wikus back is good for them. I’m expecting a tough physical challenge.”

Venter is modest in mentioning Van Heerden’s role – it is one he does with equal aplomb at the Sharks. Venter also welcomed the return of Johann Muller and Ruan Pienaar back to the Sharks.

“We feel sorry for them, but I must be honest we were clapping hands when we heard they were coming back. They are both very important to us.”

By Andrew Hollely