JOHANNESBURG – Playing a rugby match in the middle of summer and in the heat of Durban doesn’t sound like the most exciting proposition, however, the Lions are relishing the prospect of playing the Sharks at Kings Park this Friday in round 10 of the United Rugby Championship (URC).
The Joburg side has an added level of confidence as they head into this game on the back of a four-match unbeaten streak at home in all competitions and will look to take that momentum into the local derby.
Despite being above their opponents on the URC table, forwards coach Albert van den Berg has told his players to make the most of the occasion as they’ll likely be playing a team full of international stars. He also emphasised the need for his charges to start well ahead of the festive derby, which takes place at an unusual time, just two days before Christmas.
“Friday will be a good opportunity for us to show what we prepared for all week. We know what they are going to bring – they have a good overall kicking game, an exciting backline and a decent pack of forwards. It will be important for us to start well, stay in the fight as long as possible and hopefully get the win,” Van den Berg said.
Van den Berg cautioned his team not to get carried away with their recent results. While they’ve been able to put together that four-match unbeaten streak at home in both the URC and EPCR Challenge Cup, he said that playing the Sharks at the coast would offer a different challenge.
“We don’t want to dwell too much on the unbeaten run. The feeling is that we can improve on certain aspects of our game from both an individual and team perspective. It’s going tbe a tough for us against a well-coached Sharks side and while we take the confidence of not having lost in recent weeks, we won’t take this occasion for granted,” he concluded.
Kick-off on Friday is at 17:00.
Lions squad to play the Sharks (15-1):
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Rynhardt Jonker, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Quan Horn, 10 Jordan Hendrikse, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Ruan Venter, 7 Darrien Landsberg, 6 Emmanuel Tshituka, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel (c), 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2 PJ Botha, 1 JP Smith
16. Jaco Visagie, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Pieter Jansen van Vuren, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Andre Warner, 22 Gianni Lombard, 23 Stean Pienaar