Lions aim to 'out-will' Kiwis
Johannesburg - The Lions, since the splitting from Cheetahs after the 2005-season, have never managed to win back-to-back opening games of the season.
And John Mitchell’s team will be aiming to set this record straight when they play the Hurricanes at Coca-Cola Park here on Friday evening.
While the Cats - made up of the Lions and the Cheetahs from 1998 to 2005 - managed this feat in 2000 (they beat the Bulls and Stormers in the opening rounds) and 2001 (against the Stormers and Highlanders), the Lions have twice started the seasons with victories only to lose in round two.
That happened in 2008 (23-22 vs Cheetahs) and 2009 (34-28 vs Cheetahs), but gone on to lose their next match (10-55 to Blues in 2008 and 10-25 to Sharks in 2009).
Many would think that the Hurricanes provide a good opportunity for the Lions to get two in a row, but Josh Strauss, who captains the team from Johannesburg this year, realises it will not be an easy game. They’ve not beaten the men from Wellington since 2007.
“They started off slow (against the Stormers), but once they got going, they showed they are a very dangerous side. I think a lot of teams struggled in the first week but like any team, they learn from their mistakes and we expect them to come hard at us this weekend. They ended well, so we have a tough game on our hands,” said Strauss.
Lions coach John Mitchell said: “The Hurricanes will have huge desire though and it is important that we out-will that desire. They weren’t far away in that contest against the Stormers and they will take a lot of heart out that performance.
"It will be a good contest because both teams will be extremely hungry," said Mitchell.
15. Jaco Taute, 14. Deon van Rensburg, 13. Doppies la Grange, 12. Alwyn Hollenbach, 11. Michael Killian, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Michael Bondesio, 8. Warren Whiteley, 7. Joshua Strauss (captain), 6. Derick Minnie, 5. Franco van der Merwe, 4. Stephan Greeff, 3. Pat Cilliers, 2. Callie Visagie, 1. JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: 16. Martin Bezuidenhout, 17. CJ van der Linde, 18. Marius Coetzer, 19. Cobus Grobbelaar, 20. Tian Meyer, 21. Butch James, 22. James Kamana
15. André Taylor, 14. Cory Jane, 13. Conrad Smith (captain), 12. Tim Bateman, 11. Alapati Leiua, 10. Beauden Barrett, 9. Chris Eaton, 8. Victor Vito, 7. Jack Lam, 6. Faifili Levave, 5. Jeremy Thrush, 4. Jason Eaton, 3. Ben May, 2. Dane Coles, 1. Tristan Moran
Substitutes: 16. Motu Matu'u, 17. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18. James Broadhurst, 19. Brad Shields, 20. TJ Perenara, 21. Dan Kirkpatrick, 22. Charlie Ngatai