Kwagga: Lions are in 'survival' mode
CURRIE CUP SPOTLIGHT: The Golden Lions have managed to get themselves back into the play-off race, but they are very much in survival mode.
Sevens Springbok and Lions loose forward Albertus Smith, speaking to Jan de Koning ahead of their Round 10 encounter with the Blue Bulls at Ellis Park on Saturday, said the next three weeks will be crucial to their cause.
After the encounter with the Bulls, the Lions have a bye, before they face the competition's two most in-form teams - the table-topping Sharks in Durban and the exciting Western Province outfit in Johannesburg.
"As a team we have grown a lot [in the Currie Cup]," Smith said, adding: "The young players who came in without any Currie Cup experience have made huge strides.
Smith said that while last week's 34-17 win over Griquas in Kimberley was a "big" result, the real test for the Johannesburg-based outfit starts now.
"Our next three games are against big unions with very good teams," he told rugby365, adding: "That is where we will be measured.
"Every week now is a knock-out game for us.
"We will have to give it our all and can't afford to hold back anything."
He added that the Bulls, under New Zealander John Mitchell, have a new attitude towards how they play.
"They play a more attacking game and run well off the ball," the Lions loose forward said.
"You can see there is a New Zealander [Mitchell] involved.
"They offload very well and their support play is brilliant.
"We will have to ensure we make our first-time tackling, to ensure they don't break the line and get on the front foot.
"Last weekend the defence was already much better, but our goal is to be able to keep any team out and ensure they have to work very hard for their tries."
The Lions have made a habit of collecting cards this season, but Smith said discipline is not an issue.
"It is more a case of overeagerness," he said, adding: "We are working on winning the referees over - to ensure our reputation improves and that referees don't see us as habitual offenders."
By Jan de Koning