Lions will play for pride, says Strauss
With the Lions languishing at the bottom of the Super Rugby log, captain Joshua Strauss says they will play for pride in their penultimate match of the season against the Rebels at Ellis Park on Saturday.
“We don’t really play to prove something to anyone, we play for ourselves,” Strauss said on Thursday.
“I think we have a lot to play for in the last two games — if you want to call it pride, it could be that.” The Lions, against all odds, came close to upsetting South African conference leaders the Stormers in Cape Town last week.
Despite a debilitating 12 losses out of 14 matches this season, they have shown that they still have some fight in them.
Strauss said his side would also use their last two Super Rugby matches as part of their preparations for the upcoming Currie Cup.
“You want to have great momentum going into a competition that you are the defending champions of,” he said.
“So we definitely have a lot to play for.” Interim Lions coach Johan Ackermann was impressed with the fighting spirit his team showed against the Stormers.
“Obviously the will and the character was there and the platform was laid with the tight phases. That was very good,” Ackermann said.
“You can always work off that but there were one or two individual defensive errors and the high ball cost us a bit.
“There was that bit of impatience on the goalline but in general the performance was good and it’s a nice base to work from.” Injuries have forced Ackermann’s hand in ringing the changes ahead of Saturday’s match.
The Lions have made four changes to the starting line-up, with scrumhalf Michael Bondesio replacing Tian Meyer.
Waylon Murray receives a starting berth at outside centre, while Lionel Mapoe moves to the wing in the place of the injured Deon van Rensburg.
James Kamana will start at fullback in the place of Andries Coetzee.
“The injuries are a bit of a problem because you have to get new combinations,” Ackermann said.
“We now have Butch and Waylon together. We’ve got Lionel at wing again, when he was just finding his feet at centre, and we’ve got James Kamana back from injury.
“It is always disruptive but we trust that the guys have the ability.”
Lions team: James Kamana, Lionel Mapoe, Waylon Murray, Butch James, Anthonie Volminck, Elton Jantjies, Michael Bondesio, Joshua Strauss (captain), Grant Hattingh, Derick Minnie, Franco van der Merwe, Hendrik Roodt, Jacobie Adriaanse, Callie Visagie, JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: Martin Bezuidenhout, Ruan Dreyer, Etienne Oosthuizen, Jaco Kriel, Ross Cronje, JR Esterhuizen, Ruan Combrinck.