Lions plan to claw Stormers in URC opener
Team had a good preseason and managed to keep most of the core group
The Lions must stick to their processes if they want to topple the Stormers in a contest that has all the ingredients needed to produce a thriller at Ellis Park on Saturday, loose forward Emmanuel Tshituka said.
He said the Lions are expecting a tough opening United Rugby Championship (URC) duel against a formidable Stormers line-up who will be primed for battle (kickoff 4.05pm).
“What the Stormers did last season speaks for itself, going to two finals back-to-back is quite impressive,” Tshituka said.
“The past two seasons they have managed to dominate SA rugby. It’s a challenge that all the SA teams, not just us, have to take on.
“I look forward to playing against them. When we play them, it is always an attractive brand of rugby.
“As players we just have to stick to our processes and stick to what we have been doing in training throughout this week.
“There is no doubt in my mind we will come out successful.
“Last season, we had a good start. Where we fell short in the middle of the season, we were struggling to keep the consistency.
“This season, a good start is always what we want, get out of the blocks running and get as much points as we can.
“The middle of the season last time wasn’t good enough, if we can just polish up on that, we will be in for a good season.
“It’s been a long off-season with no rugby, about 12 weeks without playing.
“We take a lot of confidence going into this season. We had a really good preseason as a group and more importantly, we managed to keep most of our core group.”
New Lions forwards coach Barend Pieterse says his team will be well prepared for their first challenge of the season.
“Speaking to the players and other coaches, they all agree that it has been one of the hardest, toughest preseasons they’ve had in quite a while, so I think everyone is just excited to get the games started again,” he said.
“In every team set-up you find yourself in, there are certain strengths from a team.
“The Lions had a strength last season which the Griquas maybe didn’t have, so obviously I will try to bring my own little flavour to the Lions.
“And hopefully, whatever we want to improve on from last season, that is all we can hope for.
“I won’t say it is a combination of the two, I think you have to work towards the strengths of the players you have at the moment, and I think there are a lot of strengths here,” the coach revealed.
“Building consistency is going to be vital for us. The thing that has impressed me is the work rate of the guys.”
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