Tonight, a blood splatted Wikus Van Heerden crashed over the Highlanders line under a pile of bodies to score a last minute try that sealed an historic win for the visiting Lions. The try sealed the Lions first every win in New Zealand. Amid scenes of great jubilation at Carisbrook, Sharksworld was able to grab a few minutes with rising Lions star Warren Whiteley.
Sharksworld: Well first of all congratulations on the win tonight and the Lions first win in New Zealand – How does it feel?
Warren Whiteley: Awesome mate! The spirit in the camp has built up to this point, after our first win (on tour), then the disappointment of last week – we had a real focus this week on tour. A lot of Lions teams of the past have let it slip (on tour), so getting that result over the line at the end of the match tonight is great. It is a reflection of the character of this side and the belief we have in each other.
SW: At fulltime you looked a pretty tight unit, there looks a good spirit within the side.
WW: Definitely, I think this tour has actually come a bit late for us. We are actually just starting to hit our stride and I think we would actually like a few more games now.
SW: Well now you only have two games left, one against the Hurricanes then you return home to play the Sharks -you must be looking forward to that.
WW: Yes definitely, but we are taking one game at a time. We have the Hurricanes next, so we will enjoy tonight, have tomorrow off – that will be followed by analysis on Monday for the Hurricanes who are next on the list.
SW: Well the million dollar question in Durban is how does a promising Sharks Academy boy end up in Johannesburg playing Super rugby for the Lions – how did all that come about?
WW: I have a lot to thank the Shark academy for; it helped me a lot in the early part of my career. It was a stepping stone for me. At that time (the Sharks)and they still do have amazing loose forwards. I have found more opportunity up here and I have found a home, I am really enjoying it and its awesome being a Lion now.
SW: You started in the first 11 games of the season and looked very at home, you look to have some great combinations going between yourself, Derick Minnie, Josh Strauss and Michael Rhodes.
WW: We are all great mates, we are always rooming together. We are really tight, we all feel that this is just the beginning for us and that it can only go from strength to strength – we have real belief in that.
SW: When you look at the Lions on paper there are no current test players. So when you add someone like World Cup winner Butch James to the environment does that have a positive impact?
WW: I think everyone has a lot of respect for him being a RWC winner and he adds great value to the side with his immense experience as well as his defence. He’s an awesome guy and an awesome player.
SW: What about Mitch he was always pretty robust in these parts when he came down and played against Otago for Waikato teams. With him being a Number 8 do you bounce a few ideas off him about how to best go about things?
WW: Definitely, we are very lucky as loose forwards to have him as the coach. We actually spend a lot of time one on one with him, analysing each of our games. He adds a lot of value in that area of the game.
SW: What about goals going forward with two games left and one being at home. Is there any specific targets the team has left for this season?
WW: We plan just on taking one at a time, but we really want to win the next two games. We want to go from strength to strength and set a platform for the Currie Cup. However the Hurricanes are next and that is where our focus is.
SW: There could be real interest in your last game of the season at home to the Sharks. With a few former Sharks lads in the squad there may be a few guys really looking forward to that match.
WW: Ha ha ha, definitely – but for now our focus is the Hurricanes.
SW: When the Super season is done and dusted, what are your personal goals or plans for 2012?
WW: Personally I would like to work on my physicality both at the breakdown and in the tackle situation. Plus working on my Number 8 skills mainly focussing on my carrying and work in the tackle. Plus I want to be part of building this team; it is a beginning for us there is a lot of team spirit and a lot of belief that in the future there are a lot of big things to come.
SW: Well this season you have really caught the eye of a lot of people around the globe and I know a lot of people have taken great pleasure in watching your development.
SW: Congratulations on a huge win tonight and all the very best for the rest of this season and next season.
WW: Thank you, thank you very much.
SW: Have a good night tonight, enjoy Dunedin.
WW: Don’t worry, we will.Tweet