Fearless Lions remain motivated for remaining Super Rugby pool matches

07 July 2016 - 11:11 By Chumani Bambani

The Johannesburg-based side was the first team to book a spot in the playoff stages of the competition after finishing last weekend's round of matches perched at the summit of the overall log.Having ticked the first box of what all 20 teams in the competition had aimed to do‚ most would expect the Lions to take their foot slightly off the pedal as they prepare to face the Southern Kings at Ellis Park on Friday night and the Jaguares in Buenos Aires next week.“Not at all‚” was the frank response from the Lions' stand-in captain Jaco Kriel‚ who is filling in the leadership role for the injured Warren Whiteley.“I really believe that the team realises what it will mean to have a better log position at the end of the season.“We just want to perform on the weekend and if we let all these other factors get into our heads‚ I believe then we will not be focused on the weekend. We really leave all the planning and thinking to the management and we just play the game on the weekend.” There was also some expectation that coach Johan Ackermann would rest some of his frontline players this weekend for the clash against a Kings side that lingers second from the bottom of the overall log.But Ackermann dispelled those expectations when he named a full-strength team which is unchanged from the side that convincingly beat the Sharks 37-10 last week.“We'll always back ourselves at our home stadium‚ Ellis Park‚” said Ackermann.“But I've been taught a lot of hard lessons in my playing days where we had a great week and the next week you really struggled. You either grind out a win or you lose purely because you are not there in your mental stage.“That is the challenge for the players‚ to put everything aside‚ respect the Kings‚ respect the jersey you wear and do that with pride. Go out and make the supporters proud. First of all‚ it's the victory that we are after. If the bonus point comes‚ then great.” The Kings may sit low on the log and may have only secured two victories from their 13 matches this season‚ but the Lions still feel the side from Port Elizabeth are a threat to be taken seriously.“In most of the Kings' games‚ they were in it‚” the Lions coach reflected on the season their opponents have had.“There is the odd game where they may have lost it a bit earlier‚ but for most they were in it for long periods. We don't want to get behind and then start chasing the games. We want to start well and play well.”Kick off for the clash will be at 7pm on Friday. - TMG Digital

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