Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Johannesburg - Lions captain Josh Strauss caused quite a stir when arriving at the team announcement at Thursday, not so much for what he said, but for the absence of his trademark beard.
According to SuperSport.com Strauss arrived clean shaven and looked rather different to how most have grown to know the loose forward, and it is hoped the new look might throw the Bulls off when the two sides clash this weekend.
Asked why the beard had to go, Strauss was rather coy - citing “aerodynamics” as his reason, trying to convince the press corps that a smooth shave would make a world of difference at Loftus Versfeld.
Other than the looks though, it was the same Strauss, who came out firing in defending his side’s season, and firmly pinned the team’s hopes this weekend on making a big impression ahead of the Currie Cup.
“We’re looking forward to the Currie Cup,” Strauss explained about the domestic competition which starts a week after the Super Rugby final, “We are focused on this game, and want to take something positive out of it, something that we can build on after this weekend. I don’t think the Sharks did us a favour with how they beat the Bulls and they will be very determined. We know it will be a tough game, probably the biggest derby game in the country.”
Strauss said the Rebels win had given his side a dollup of confidence, one which will help them when facing their neighbours.
“We got a lot of confidence from the win, as well as the one against the Sharks and we’re hoping to continue that momentum. Hopefully another good performance will give us an edge in the Currie Cup, especially as we have a little more time off to recover than some of the other teams after this weekend.
“The Bulls are coming off a loss and they will want to prove their worth this weekend, they will be a desperate team and they will be very dangerous. We need to be switched on for the challenge, we need to be physical. As a team we don’t have much to lose, we just will continue to play for each other and for ourselves as a team. That can make a dangerous mix of our own. We definitely want to end the season well.”
Beard or not, Strauss will be hoping his team’s determination will be enough for them this weekend.
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Mornè Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 Juandrè Kruger, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling
Substitutes: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Deon Stegmann, 19 CJ Stander, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouchè, 22 Francois Venter
15 James Kamana, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Butch James, 11 Anthonie Volminck, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Joshua Strauss (captain), 7 Grant Hattingh, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Etienne Oosthuizen, 19 Jaco Kriel, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 JR Esterhuizen, 22 Ruan Combrinck