Kwagga: Final isn't about personal redemption

    2018-07-31 08:11

    Cape Town - Lions loose forward Kwagga Smith remembers the 2017 Super Rugby final better than most. 

    Playing in front of their home fans at a packed Ellis Park, the Lions fell to a 25-17 defeat in what was their second tournament final in as many years. 

    While the Lions were second best on the day, their task was not made any easier by the fact that Smith was shown a straight red card for a dangerous aerial challenge on Crusaders fullback David Havili just before half time. 

    The Lions were spirited in their second half fightback, but it was a bridge too far and the Smith incident was one of the major talking points after the match.

    Since then, the 25-year-old has moved on. 

    He has been impressive throughout 2018 and in June he made his Springbok debut against Wales in Washington.

    On Saturday, he will have another opportunity to help the Lions finally get over the line in Super Rugby when they take on the Crusaders in Christchurch in what will be their third straight final. 

    Smith is not thinking about personal redemption, but when quizzed by media in Johannesburg on Monday he acknowledged that the aftermath of the 2017 final had been a testing time.

    "Last year, I had an opportunity, and I slipped up, but there’s another opportunity up for grabs and I want to use it to the best of my ability," he said.

    "It is not about redemption for me, it’s just a wonderful opportunity. It’s a privilege to be in another final, and for some, it’s a third final in a row.

    "The week after (the 2017 final) was very difficult, and it was important to just get away to our farm and have some quiet time.

    "It wasn’t a cynical or intentional act from my side, I perhaps just didn’t focus for one second, but those are the moments that can make a difference in a final."

    The Crusaders are overwhelming favourites for Saturday's clash.

    Kick-off is at 09:35 (SA time).


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