“This is Test rugby it’s not a normal provincial competition”
Lions captain Elton Jantjies has told his teammates in no uncertain terms they need to man-up if they’re to get their Super Rugby campaign back on track.
The Lions suffered a fourth defeat in five matches on Saturday, this time going down to the Rebels (37-17) in Melbourne. They previously also lost to the Jaguares, Stormers and Waratahs and have just one win so far this season, against the Reds.
The men from Joburg now occupy the bottom place in the five-team SA Conference.
They will face the Blues in Auckland this weekend before wrapping up their tour of Australasia with a match against the Highlanders next Saturday.
Jantjies, who is captaining the Lions in the absence of the injured Warren Whiteley, and several other senior players who left the franchise at the end of last year, said there were no excuses for his team’s under-performing this year.
“I never want to talk about rebuilding,” said the flyhalf, referring to the fact the Lions of 2020 are a young and inexperienced team.
“I don’t like it and it’s easy to use as an excuse. This is a man’s game; it’s not for kids. We need to put this behind us and move forward; learn as quickly as possible.
“This is Test rugby it’s not a normal provincial competition.
“Here we are playing against quality players every week, and we need to grow up quickly. We will reset and focus on our next game, the Blues, from Monday (today).”
The Lions coaches have plenty to think about ahead of their match in Auckland, including what type of game they’re going to play and who’s going to be tasked to get a much-needed positive result.
The Lions, minus several senior players who stayed home because of injury, including Ross Cronjé, Roelof Smit and Cyle Brink, lost flank Vincent Tshituka to injury last week and now they’re set to possibly also be without Jamba Ulengo and Wandisile Simelane this week.
Ulengo has a “severe quad contusion” while Simelane has a right knee injury, which may or may not impact on their involvement against the Blues. Both men will be closely monitored this week.
But, to cover for the eventuality that neither of them will be fit enough to play, the Lions have decided to call up Duncan Matthews, who’ll arrive in New Zealand today.
It’s another big week for the Lions – the players and coaches – as the Blues are certainly not the pushovers of recent times. Under the guidance of Leon McDonald they’ve won four of six games and sit third in the New Zealand Conference, just one point behind the Chiefs and Crusaders.
They’ll also go into the Lions clash on the back of a confidence-building win against the Hurricanes, away from home.