Ex-Bok Strydom backs Lions
Johannesburg - Former Golden Lions rugby captain Hannes Strydom believes the Johannesburg-based side can win the Currie Cup final against the Sharks on Saturday - provided they play as a unit.
Strydom, who was skipper in the victorious 1999 Lions side that beat the then Natal 32-9, will do the jersey handover to the team on Friday.
"There are many similarities between 1999 and this year. The same unity and co-operation exists with this team and they’ve shown it the whole year," Strydom said on Thursday.
The 1995 World Cup-winning Springbok said the Lions should not be over-confident because of their home-ground advantage.
Strydom said it would be crucial for the team to play for each other and for Lions coach John Mitchell, whom he feels has shown a lot of confidence in his charges.
"They should be willing to die for each other on the field," said Strydom.
Strydom said his advice to Lions captain Joshua Strauss will be that a home-ground advantage could also be a disadvantage, as they could be swept away by the atmosphere at Ellis Park.
"They will need to concentrate and not be swept away because of a packed stadium," he said.
"The winners will be determined by who wants it the most because everyone is good enough to play in the final."
He said the Lions needed to dominate all facets of the match if they wanted to win the encounter.
"They should be first at the line-outs, the scrums and the breakdowns and take on the opposition man for man," said Strydom.
Strydom reminisced about the 1999 final which he said was still lucid memory of how his team ran in five tries to Natal’s three penalty conversions.
"I remember the tries by Chester (Williams), AJ Venter, Thinus Delport and Bossie (Leon Boshoff) and how we were the underdogs," said Strydom.
"No one gave us a chance and it was the swansong for some of the Sharks players like Gary Teichmann, Henry Honiball and Andre Joubert."
Strydom said their focus was 100 percent on playing according to the game plan and training patterns.
He said he admired Mitchell for the manner in which he turned the team around since he started coaching the Lions.
"It is fantastic how he straightened the team out as no one gave them a chance at the start of the season," he said.
"The team have shown what can be done, but the final has not been won yet and there is still some work ahead for them."
The pharmacist quipped that the fish-moth riddled photo of the victorious 1999 Lions team hanging at the Golden Lions headquarters in Braamfontein needed to be replaced by the current team.
Strydom predicted that it would be a close game with the Lions taking the spoils 19-15.
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Doppies la Grange, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Joshua Strauss (captain), 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 CJ Van der Linde
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse/JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Warren Whiteley, 19 Cobus Grobbelaar/Jaco Kriel, 20 Butch James, 21 Dylan des Fountain, 22 James Kamana
15. Patrick Lambie, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Stefan Terblanche, 12. Marius Joubert, 11. JP Pietersen, 10. Frederic Michalak, 9. Conrad Hoffmann, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Keegan Daniel (captain), 5. Ross Skeate, 4. Jean Deysel, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Eugene van Staden, 18. Alistair Hargreaves, 19. Marcell Coetzee, 20. Ross Cronje, 21. Adrian Jacobs, 22. Lwazi Mvovo