Lions looking to regain their bearings
Tue, 05 Jun 2012 07:36
The Lions, fresh from their upset of the play-off chasing Sharks, will use the next three weeks to "find their bearings".
In an injury-riddled season and ongoing uncertainty over their Super Rugby future, the 38-28 win in Johannesburg at the weekend came as a welcome relief
However, with three more rounds of league action remaining after the break for the June internationals, the Lions will be looking for more upsets - over the Stormers, Rebels and Bulls - to ensure the Lions not only finish well clear of the last place on the table.
That will give them some decent leverage when they go back to the negotiation table to decide the way forward for South Africa in Super Rugby.
Having won just once, in Round One, before this past weekend's shock of the Sharks, all their detractors claimed the Lions don't belong in Super Rugby and the Southern Kings deserve a chance.
However, the Lions showed they are not the easy-beats most have labelled them to be and it is a point they would like to drive home after the three-week mid-season break.
"Most of the players who have been playing all season will look forward to this break ... we've been taking knocks all season," Lions captain Josh Strauss told this website.
He said the break will allow the men from Johannesburg a chance to rest their wary bodies.
However, they don't have all three weeks off.
"The second week we return," Straus said, adding: "A one-week break will do the guys good end get them refreshed."
The other big positive is that they will also get a few of their injured players back.
"For the Lions this could be a timely and good break," Strauss added.
While some teams like momentum if they win, the Lions use the break to take a step back and re-evaluate their season.
"It is a great chance to get our bearings again," Strauss told this website, adding: "I don't want to make excuses, but we've had a lot of injuries in the early stages of the season.
"It is a tough knock if you can't keep established combinations together, and get continuity.
"To get some of those injured players back and allow them to train with us again, as well as get some of the more established combinations will be good for us.
"Obviously teams that win enjoy the momentum, to keep going, but for a team like the Lions who have taken plenty of knocks it is a good thing [to have a break].
Injuries have been a major contributing factor for the Lions this season, with as many as 13 of their Currie Cup-winning squad from last year missing any number of games through injury.
"I don't think people realise just how serious the injury situation has been at the Lions," Strauss told this website, adding: "Not just 13 players from the Currie Cup, but 19 players who were part of the [training] group at the start of the season were ruled out.
"After weeks four and five we had to call up players from the Pumas and from our junior ranks.
"Those were guys who did not even train with us in the pre-season - it was a massive blow for our team."
By Jan de Koning
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