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    Kriel: We feel the whole of SA behind us

    2017-08-03 14:18

    Lloyd Burnard - Johannesburg

    Johannesburg - The Lions will play in front of 62 000 people at Ellis Park in Saturday's Super Rugby final, but they are likely to enjoy the support of an entire nation. 

    The last time a South Africa franchise won Super Rugby was in 2010 through the Bulls, and since then the country's sides have struggled to consistently challenge for honours. 

    With coach Johan Ackermann on his way out of the Lions at the end of the season, emotions are running high.

    Having lost in the final last year, the Lions have a chance to make things right on Saturday. 

    And, from a South African perspective, it is an opportunity to wrestle back some power from New Zealand. 

    The All Blacks and the New Zealand Super Rugby sides have been dominant in recent years, and while the rest of the South African teams are still far behind, a win for the Lions would not hurt as South African rugby looks to recover from a woeful year in 2016.

    "I don't think the players have put that kind of pressure on themselves, but as an individual you'll think about it," Lions captain Jaco Kriel told Sport24 on Thursday when asked about the prospect of getting one over the Kiwis. 

    "The New Zealand sides have been the benchmark in the game, so it's amazing to play the final against the most successful team in Super Rugby.

    "We want to make South Africa proud. We want to inspire and we want to play for the whole country."

    Kriel feels that, despite the intense rivalry between South African franchises, all of the country's rugby lovers will be backing the Lions on Saturday.

    "The messages have been coming in from other unions with players saying 'good luck'. They're behind us and they're supporting us," he said.

    "The messages have come from everywhere. I believe the whole of South Africa will be behind us this weekend."

    Kick-off on Saturday is at 16:00.

    Teams:

    Lions

    15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Jaco Kriel (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen

    Substitutes: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 23 Sylvian Mahuza

    Crusaders

    15 David Havili, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Seta Tamanivalu, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody

    Substitutes: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 George Bridge

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    Fixtures

    Saturday, 17 February 2018
    • Stormers v Jaguares, Cape Town 15:05
    • Lions v Sharks, Emirates Airlines Park 17:15
    Friday, 23 February 2018
    • Highlanders v Blues, 08:35
    • Rebels v Reds, AAMI Park 10:45
    Saturday, 24 February 2018
    • Sunwolves v Brumbies, Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium 06:15
    • Crusaders v Chiefs, 08:35
    • Waratahs v Stormers, Allianz Stadium 10:45
    • Lions v Jaguares, Emirates Airlines Park 15:05
    • Bulls v Hurricanes, Loftus Versfeld 17:15

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