Kriel: Being No.1 means nothing

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 07:51

SUPER RUGBY QUARTERFINAL SPOTLIGHT: Apart from bragging rights, finishing first on the standings have little value to teams.

The same applies to the Lions, who have gone from zeroes to heroes in just four years - topping the tournaments standings this year.

In 2013 the Johannesburg-based franchise was kicked out of the competition in what many felt was an act of political expediency.

They went back and rebuilt their brand, using mostly discards and unwanted players from other franchises.

On their return in 2014 the new-look Lions won a franchise record seven matches and finished 12th. The next year they raised the bar again - nine wins and an eighth-place finish. Last year, the first year of Super 18, they won 11 games and finished runners up.

This year they topped the log, but the Lions are adamant they have won nothing yet.

Lions captain Jaco Kriel, speaking to rugby365 ahead of their quarterfinal encounter with the Sharks at Ellis Park on Saturday, said to be top of the standings in 2017 - after coming back from their enforced exile in 2013 - is unbelievable'..

He said it is not a feeling you can always put in words.

However, they are not going to be caught up in the hype of topping the log and forget about the play-offs.

"In the play-offs that No.1 position means nothing, other than giving you homeground advantage," Kriel said.

"While it is an amazing feeling, given where we have come from, we can't get caught up in the hype."

Kriel said they are not also going to create unwanted pressure just because it is a play-off match.

"We are not going to change much,"he told rugby365, adding: "We will stick with the systems.

"Everything we do we want to do better.

"We want to challenge ourselves to improve every week in the play-offs. We have to go out on Saturday and execute."

The Springbok flank said last weekend's win over the Sharks in Durban was not the standards they set for themselves.

"However, closer analysis will reveal it were small things with which we shot ourselves in the foot," Kriel said.

"Players will make mistakes, but it is how you react to those mistakes."

The Lions skipper said he expects the Sharks to place a big emphasis on the breakdowns.

"In order to play our game, we will have to be very accurate at the breakdowns.

"We will also have to be accurate with our skills, such as catch and pass, while our decision-making will also have to be spot on."

By Jan de Koning

There are currently no matches being played
Fri, 23 February 2018
Highlanders v Blues 06h35 Dunedin
Rebels v Reds 08h45 Melbourne
Munster v Glasgow Warriors 19h00 Irish Independent Park
Dragons v Edinburgh 19h30 Rodney Parade
Leinster v Kings 19h35 RDS
Scarlets v Ulster 19h35 Parc y Scarlets
France v Italy 20h00 Paris
Sat, 24 February 2018
Sunwolves v Brumbies 04h15 Tokyo
Crusaders v Chiefs 06h35 Christchurch
Waratahs v Stormers 08h45 Allianz Park
Treviso v Connacht 12h00 Stadio Monigo
Bath v Sale Sharks 12h30 Recreation Ground
Lions v Jaguares 13h05 Johannesburg
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Ireland v Wales 14h15 Aviva Stadium
Gloucester v Wasps 14h30 Kingsholm
Harlequins v Newcastle Falcons 15h00 Twickenham Stoop
Bulls v Hurricanes 15h15 Loftus Versfeld
Scotland v England 16h45 BT Murrayfield
Ospreys v Cheetahs 17h30 Liberty Stadium
Sun, 25 February 2018
Zebre v Cardiff Blues 13h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
London Irish v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Madejski Stadium
Saracens v Leicester Tigers 15h30 Allianz Park
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 0 0 0 0 0
Reds 0 0 0 0 0
Waratahs 0 0 0 0 0
Sunwolves 0 0 0 0 0
Rebels 0 0 0 0 0
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 0 0 0 0 0
Hurricanes 0 0 0 0 0
Chiefs 0 0 0 0 0
Highlanders 0 0 0 0 0
Blues 0 0 0 0 0
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 1 1 0 0 4
Lions 1 1 0 0 4
Sharks 1 0 0 1 1
Bulls 0 0 0 0 0
Jaguares 1 0 0 1 0