Both the Lions and Waratahs desperately need to get a move on. But while the Lions are last in their Super Rugby conference‚ they insist they are not positioned on the trap door just yet.
Both teams occupy unflattering positions in their respective conferences (the Waratahs are second last) but both can still leapfrog all their countrymen as the league stages intensify in the coming weeks.
Flank Kwagga Smith acknowledged the Lions are in a tight spot but added that they are upwardly mobile.
“We’ve put ourselves in a difficult position but it’s definitely not an impossible position for us. It is good for us to now come in as underdogs. We can bring it. We can just go out and play to the best of our ability‚” said Smith.
Scrumhalf Ross Cronjé gave the impression that he does not care much for the log.
“We would like to win every game from here on in. But if you start thinking too far ahead‚ you lose sight of the job at hand. I don’t want to think about next week. I’m sure that is the whole team’s mindset.
“At the moment we are only focusing on this weekend‚” Cronjé said with an air of inevitably. “It doesn’t matter what happens in the next five weeks, we are focusing on the Waratahs.
“That is a big challenge for us. We have to take it week by week and if we end up in the playoffs‚ fantastic‚ but our focus has to be here in the moment.”
“We are going to take it week by week‚” said Marvin Orie later as if holding the hymn sheet that was in Cronjé’s possession minutes earlier.
“That is how we have approached our season‚ every match. We as players and coaches are only thinking Waratahs.
“The last couple of results didn’t go our way. It was tough for us. The Waratahs are tough. They are a fantastic team. They gave the Bulls a very good match and they were in it right up until the end. It is going to be a challenge for us.”
Either way‚ Saturday’s losing team‚ especially if it is the Lions‚ will have to be blemish-free for the rest of the league stages if they want to challenge their conference rivals.
The Lions trail the table-topping Crusaders by 20 points‚ although the leaders have played one game more. They trail the conference-leading Bulls by six points.
It looks slightly less bleak for the Waratahs who trail the Rebels‚ leaders of their conference by three points.
Cronjé believes the bye the Lions enjoyed last week will stand them in good stead on Saturday.
“The coaches have had time to look and assess the Waratahs‚” he said. “Getting away from the game is exciting for a rugby player because it freshens you up and gets you excited to come back and do your thing.”