Currie Cup

Lions' Mnisi growing in stature

2015-09-23 17:59
Howard Mnisi (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Since his move to Johannesburg in 2014, Howard Mnisi has grown into one of the crucial cogs in the Lions machinery.

Mnisi initially fulfilled an impact-player role before his influence in the midfield and his role as a leader earned him a starting role.

During this year’s Currie Cup campaign he has taken up more responsibility as a first receiver directing the game from midfield.

“It is something I personally tried to develop and if you look at the best inside centres in the world they can double up,” Mnisi told Sport24.

“You just need to be able to take control when the flyhalf is not in the right place and you need to shift that attention and you give direction to the game.

“It is something I’ve been working on for a while now and slowly but surely I am getting there where I want to be.”

The Lions have been in superb form this year, winning seven matches on the trot in their Currie Cup campaign and with three matches left in the regular competition they are set to claim a home semi-final berth.

The 26-year-old Mnisi has also established himself as one of the key members of the Lions leadership core and was handed the captaincy for their clash against the EP Kings in Johannesburg.

With that he became the second player from Standerton, in Mpumalanga after Jaco Kriel to captain the Golden Lions this year.

“In matric he (Kriel) was captain and I was vice-captain and it is just a continuation of that coming to the Lions,” Mnisi said.

“Mister (Riaan) Viviers and Standerton High School got me interested in rugby and tried to develop me as much as I could.”

Mnisi went on to play Under-18 Craven Week with the Pumas in 2006 and 2007 before moving to the Sharks Academy where he found his feet under the guidance of Lions assistant coach Swys de Bruin.

After stints at Griquas and picking up Super Rugby experience with the Cheetahs, Mnisi found his home at the Lions where he has flourished.

“I’m enjoying my rugby at the moment, being at the Lions where the coaches back you and the environment is just conducive to good performances,” he said.

“You can pick any player in the squad and they are just playing for each other and enjoying each other’s company and it shows on the field as well.”

Mnisi said the expansive style at the Lions and the faith the coaches placed in the players contributed to his rich vein of form.

“I always look for space and continuity, so I try the offload and I try to make calculated risks, and at the Lions we try to keep the ball alive and I think that suits my natural style of play,” Mnisi said.


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