We are hungry for more - Whiteley
Johannesburg - Springbok No 8 Warren Whiteley warned his team-mates that while they may be in their third Super Rugby semi-final in three years, they still have achieved nothing.
And Whiteley added that the hunger inside him and his team-mates had definitely not subsided. They want a chance to claim the title that has eluded them for so long, according to SuperSport.com.
“More than anything I’m just grateful, and hungry. We haven’t achieved anything yet and there is still a massive game ahead for us now,” Whiteley said.
“That’s the focus for us, we aren’t going to look ahead and we aren’t going to look in the past. We are going to focus on this weekend and take it step for step. That means enjoying it first, relaxing and recovering and on Monday we will take it from there.”
Whiteley praised his team-mates for their defence and stopping the Jaguares attack, and while he was in awe of Malcolm Marx’s performance, he praised the rest of the team’s contribution as well.
“I think collectively it was a massive effort. You also have to look at the guy who makes the tackle, because that is the guy who is allowing Malcolm to steal the ball and often that is the guy who doesn’t get much credit. But we made some good leg tackles and that allows the ball-stealer to get in. But a guy like Malcolm, jeepers you don’t move him from there. I think Kwagga got one or two as well and Marnitz all round was good as well when he came onto the field.
“But just all round it was a really good performance, it was tough and there were periods when they kept the ball for long periods of time. I’m not sure what the tackle stats were but there were times we defended for long periods of time and we had good patience on D. It was just that second half, there were probably about 10 minutes in the second half where I felt we were flat, but we got back into it and managed to put some good pressure on them. Really proud of the boys it was a tough game.”
Whiteley warned that the challenge this weekend in the semi-final would be a totally different one for the Lions, especially with the strike force the Waratahs have out wide.
“Completely different, I think tactically they play a smart game. They will probably kick a lot more here at Ellis Park. They will probably try and put our outside backs under pressure here with the high ball, with Israel Folau so we can probably expect some high balls, kicking from nine and contestable. They will probably try and slow it down as well, and buy time.
“But when they do get front-foot ball they are extremely dangerous. They are direct and have some good strong ball players and they like to play direct and then give Kurtley (Beale) flat ball to attack from and when he does get flat ball he is dangerous. They’ve got Naiyaravoro on the wing and Israel Folau. Again the breakdown will be a contest, the tackle fight and slowing down their ball. Of course the set piece as well - if you can dominate from set piece, starve them from ball then you don’t give them those opportunities”.
Whiteley said while many people were saying it could be a repeat of last year’s Crusaders-Lions final, this wasn’t pre-destined and his team would still need to fight to get there. Once you assume, he believes, then you are your own worst enemy at a stage in the tournament where any of the four sides can win on the day.
“Look that semi - the Crusaders against the Hurricanes. Semi-final rugby, you can’t just say someone is going to win it. It is the same with us against the Waratahs. You have to put in the work to get the result. We won’t look that far ahead, we will focus on the Tahs, and we know they are going to come here guns blazing with nothing to lose and if they are on, on the day, they can produce some quality football.”
The Lions are set to name their side for the clash on Thursday.
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