Gold likens Lions to Meyer's Bulls
Cape Town - Sharks coach Gary Gold has likened the success of the Lions in Super Rugby this season to that of the Bulls during the Heyneke Meyer era.
In terms of playing styles, Johan Ackermann's Lions have very little in common with Meyer's Bulls side that won the title in 2007.
Meyer was also a part of the Bulls in an executive coaching role when they won Super Rugby in 2009 and 2010.
The Bulls back then relied on a forward-driven game and the boots of Derick Hougaard and Morne Steyn for their success while the Lions are an attacking unit with the ability to hurt their opposition from anywhere on the field.
Gold's comparison was more to do with seeing the results of backing a coach and a group of players at a franchise.
Meyer had joined the Bulls as head coach in 2000 and they finished second-bottom on the log with one win all season.
Then, in 2002, the Bulls finished bottom of the log without a win.
Meyer then spent some time with the Bulls' Currie Cup and Vodacom Cup sides before he was back at the Super Rugby helm three years later.
This time he would have a major impact.
He guided the Bulls back-to-back Super Rugby semi-finals in 2005 and 2006 before winning the title against the Sharks in that unforgettable final in Durban in 2007.
"I think they’re (the Lions) a product of what us as coaches have been saying for a long time," said Gold after watching his side smashed 37-10 in Johannesburg on Saturday.
"This Lions story is so similar to the Bulls story under Heyneke … a slow start, difficult conditions in the beginning and the people and the group get backed and this is what you can grow to.
"I can’t understand how people don’t understand that that’s how great sports teams are formed.
"They’re a group of players and coaches who have been together a long time and they’ve had their tough times. They had two very tough years in the beginning but they stuck together … as the Bulls did with Heyneke … and they grew into a great team."
Gold labeled the Lions as "outstanding" and said that he thought they could stay in the competition until the very end.
"They always say if we could bottle confidence we’d make a lot of money and this is a team who have great confidence, play a great brand of rugby and are well coached," said Gold.
"They are a good team and I think they can go all the way."
The Lions have secured a home quarter-final.