Durban - Shark loose forward Willem Alberts believes his former Lions team will have plenty of desire and determination to clinch Saturday’s Currie Cup final.
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The country’s top two rugby sides square off at Coca-Cola Park in Johannesburg on Saturday, with the hosts having last won the competition in 1999, although they were twice losing finalists since.
One of those occasions was in 2002 when they lost to the Blue Bulls and the other, more significantly, was in 2007 when they were beaten by the Cheetahs.
Springbok loose forward Alberts was in his breakthrough season with the Gauteng union that year - although he did not play in the final - while several of the current squad members also featured in the 20-18 loss in Bloemfontein.
"I was there when they had some difficult times and the union was struggling," Alberts said.
"We did make a final in 2007 and got a lot of points against the Cheetahs.
"We lost that day and that mark will obviously still be with some of the players, those who played that day."
Amongst those that were in the match 22 on that day were Cobus Grobbelaar, Franco van der Merwe, JC Janse van Rensburg and Jannie Boshoff.
Alberts, who spent his entire youth career at the Johannesburg franchise before moving to the Sharks at the end of 2009 season, is expecting the Lions to "go out and give it their all".
The 27-year-old warned his team-mates they would have to be at their best from the outset, especially after an indifferent showing during their 20-13 semi-final win over the Cheetahs last Saturday.
"I think in the first half we were waiting for things to happen for us, we made some mistakes and the Cheetahs made it really difficult for us," Alberts said.
"But then when we wanted to play together as a unit and implemented what we trained to do, it then went well.
"So we know what the challenge will be this week and from the first whistle, we’ll need to pull together and play as a team. We’re all looking forward to it."
Coach of the defending champions, John Plumtree, has been rallying his troops for one final "80-minute" performance.
"Over the weekend we didn’t gel right from the start, but we saw a change after half-time," he said.
"What we saw after half-time is going to happen from the first whistle and that’s what’s important."
The Sharks leave Durban on Wednesday to set up base at Sun City, where they will continue their final preparations ahead of the match on Saturday.
"We wanted to get up there as early as possible. We wanted to get acclimatised with the conditions there, train on the Highveld and just get some togetherness as a group."
Plumtree will be bidding to lead the team to a third title in four years.
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
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