Focused: Harold Vorster says if the Lions play to their potential, they need not worry about the score. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Focused: Harold Vorster says if the Lions play to their potential, they need not worry about the score. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

Instead of assessing the approaching semifinal storm, in-form centre Harold Vorster and his Lions teammates are more focused on getting their house in order.

Perhaps the Lions should be battening down the hatches but on the surface at least they appear not to be bothered by the Hurricanes’ marvellous record against them, or indeed the fact that they are up against the team that vanquished them in 2016’s Super Rugby final. Some might suggest the insular approach smacks of arrogance ahead of Saturday’s semifinal.

"We aren’t that bothered about the result because it’s not something we can determine. We are just focused on our own processes. The things we do. If we play the way we can the result will look after itself," explained Vorster.

The Lions have not beaten the Hurricanes since 2007 and perhaps the best way of confronting a potentially bleak forecast is by not looking at it at all. Besides, the Lions have more than enough to occupy them following back-to-back unconvincing performances against the Sharks.

They kept the Sharks at arm’s-length in the last league match in Durban, before a late Ruan Combrinck penalty was their ticket out of jail in the quarterfinal last weekend.

"The Sharks are a good side," noted Vorster. "They put us under a lot of pressure… we need to go back to basics."

That they certainly have to. Their basics have enabled them to play a brand of rugby high in octane and high in ambition. They have lacked the latter in recent weeks, perhaps as a result of receding levels of conviction and belief.

The Hurricanes by contrast have had to crank it up a notch following the international break. They confirmed their lofty status with an impressive win over the Crusaders in the last league match of the campaign. Last week they built on that despite a sluggish start to beat the Brumbies in Canberra.

This week, however, they are up against a side with whom they share striking resemblances. The Lions are perhaps the closest thing to the Hurricanes outside New Zealand’s borders, but they have the urgent need to restore confidence to their game.

Predictably the poster boy for some of last weekend’s misadventures was flyhalf Elton Jantjies, who missed four kickable attempts at goal, which placed his team under undue pressure in the final quarter. He was substituted, which may have been a further knock to his confidence.

The Lions got away with it last weekend, but a positive showing from Jantjies this weekend is a non-negotiable if the Joburgers are going to progress to the final. He certainly needs to make a bigger impact than opposite number Beauden Barrett, who at the minute is just about the best in the business.

Vorster agrees there is much for the Lions to stew on in the build-up to the semifinal. In the back of their minds, too, is the prospect of them playing their last game under outgoing coach Johan Ackermann, who is moving to Gloucester.

Vorster was reluctant to place Ackermann front and centre of their motivation.

"We have a lot of respect for him," he said.

"Everyone has their calling. He has to play a role over there. Maybe he inspires people over there. We respect him for what he has done for the union. We play for each other, like one big family."


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