The Lions may have a favourable Super 14 draw, but captain Cobus Grobbelaar says they don’t see it as an automatic passage to success.
Speaking to Jan de Koning of rugby365.com during a break in their pre-season training, the hard-working flank says “doing the hard yards” remain a priority for his team as they hope to end a seven-year run of poor results.
The Lions, and their Super 12 predecessors the Cats, have not finished inside the top 10 since 2001 – the last of their two appearances in the play-offs. And a 14th-place finish last year still rankles with the Johannesburg-based franchise.
And they could not have wished for a more favourable draw – their first six matches in South Africa, including facing the Cheetahs, Bulls, Brumbies and Hurricanes on home turf in Johannesburg.
Their other matches on South African soil are against the Sharks (in Durban) and the Stormers (in Cape Town), venues where they’ve had success in the past.
“Yes, we certainly do have a favourable draw,” Grobbelaar told rugby365.com.
“It definitely is better, but it is always in your own hands – we still have to make it happen.
“Just look at the Bulls when they won it [the Super 14 in 2007], they had five games in Australasia, but still won [the competition].
“There is no doubt we still have to go out and do the job, we must still go out there and do the hard yards on the field.”
Grobbelaar says his team’s pre-season preparations are going “very well” and as all teams do they are training hard.
But the most pleasing aspect for him is the return of some Lions stalwarts – Springbok flyhalf André Pretorius, Bok lock Jannes Labuschagne and wing Ashwin Willemse.
“It is nice to see some of the old faces, like André [Pretorius] at the pre-season [training].
“At the moment we are doing the hard yards and particularly this week is a tough week, but all is going well and the players’ attitudes are all very positive.”
He also spelled out his teams goals, both for the pre-season and for the Super 14 itself.
The pre-season is about laying the foundation for a successful campaign and we are working on sorting out the basics out and ensure we have the stamina,” he said.
“During the season our first goal is the first five rounds, when we play against all the South African teams [the Cheetahs, Sharks and Bulls, before a bye and then the Stormers]. We want to win all those.
“Another focus point is our home games, where getting points are non-negotiable.
“We are in the position where we play the South African teams first and it could be to our benefit if we can pick up some wins against them.”Tweet