Lions charged for 'epic' Final
SUPER RUGBY FINAL: A four-year journey will reach its climax in front of a record crowd on 62,500 at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Lions centre Lionel Mapoe believes said they do not want to disappoint the people who paid good money to watch them take on the Crusaders in the grand finale.
He also believes the emotion of such a big crowd will lift them to new heights.
The Lions will appear in their first Super Rugby final on home ground since Transvaal lost the Queensland in the Super 10 Final in 1995.
They have a massive mountain to climb against the seven-time champion Crusaders.
Mapoe said playing in a Super Rugby Final in front of their home crowd gives the players added responsibility and energy heading into the decider.
"It's going to be amazing, it's going to be epic," Mapoe told a media briefing.
"I think to have a full crowd [at Ellis Park] is going to be amazing," he said, adding: "For the players it also gives them that extra energy."
The Lions will require every bit of extra energy they can muster in order to topple the Crusaders, who have been defensively rock solid throughout their campaign - especially in their 27-13 victory over the Chiefs in the semifinal in Christchurch last week.
This was in a game where they had minimal possession and were required to make almost double the number of tackles compared to the Chiefs.
Mapoe added that the Lions have been focusing on recovery throughout the week and making sure that they are in their best physical condition for battle on Saturday.
"The preparation has been going well.
"We didn't try to do too much or try to do less.
"It is a big week, but I think the vibe will catch some of the players come Saturday, but I trust the guys will channel that energy in a good way - so that we are on our 'A' game," said Mapoe.
Mapoe also paid tribute to coach Johan Ackermann, who will head to England to start a three-year stint with Premiership club Gloucester after the Final.
Mapoe has been a member of the Lions squad since Ackermann was appointed head coach in 2013.
He said Saturday's Final is going to be an 'emotional' send-off for Ackermann.
"We can't change the fact that his going,"the centre said.
"I think the guys are sad to see him leave, but we want to make him proud as well, because of what he put into this team," Mapoe added.
By Josh Isaacson