Lions captain JC Janse van Rensburg praised the newcomers in the side following Saturday’s 33-17 win over the Cheetahs.
Coach Johan Ackermann made nine changes to the team that beat Russia 51-13 in the Lions Challenge opener last week and whilst they got off to a slow start, the Lions stormed back in the second half and overturned a 10-point half-time deficit to seal their second successive win.
Janse van Rensburg, who spearheaded a dominant Lions scrum, said it was a gutsy performance by the inexperienced outfit.
“It’s all guts. The guys put in an amazing effort tonight. The youngsters put up their hands. There were a few changes and the new guys really stood out tonight,” the Lions skipper said in a post-match interview.
Janse van Rensburg added that the performance of the rookies will make for healthy competition for places in the run-on side and give Ackermann much to ponder over.
“The whole pre-season we said we are going to use a whole bunch of guys and if you get a chance you have to put up your hand.
“I’m happy I’m not the coach because they have to select a team again next week. The guys that played tonight… I take my hat off to them,” he said.
The Lions’ next assignment will be their toughest to date as they travel to Soweto to face trans-Jukskei rivals the Bulls in a historic clash for the Gauteng Rugby Cup at Orlando Stadium on Saturday.
Janse van Rensburg acknowledged the importance of the match and said they are relishing the contest.
“Next week is going to be a massive game, the derby. It’s for the Gauteng Rugby Cup and we will be ready,” he said.
The Gauteng Rugby Cup will see the Blue Bulls Rugby Union kick-off their 75-year history at the home ground of reigning Premiership champions Orlando Pirates, who recently kicked off their celebration.
MEC Lebogang Maile, Gauteng MEC for Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation, said the Gauteng Rugby Cup is all about sport for social cohesion.
“In 2010 we had two sold out Bulls matches against the Crusaders and the Stormers at Orlando Stadium. There was excitement and enthusiasm about the return of rugby to Soweto. I’m hoping that our community supports the Gauteng Rugby Cup with the same euphoria and anticipation as they did for the Super Rugby matches back in 2010.”
Orlando Pirates head coach Roger de Sa wished the team success in their upcoming Super Rugby campaign.
“Like Orlando Pirates, the Bulls have a rich and proud history in South African sport. They have created a legacy here for the Orlando community and will no doubt continue to treat our rugby-starved community of first class action.
“On behalf of my players and club, I would like to wish the Bulls the best of luck in their pre-season match against the Lions and in their 2013 Super Rugby campaign,” he said.
Blue Bulls Company CEO Barend van Graan is looking forward to the team’s return to Orlando Stadium.
“The Gauteng Rugby Cup represents the very beginnings of our Union and that in itself is a special moment. The team is looking forward to returning to Orlando Stadium and experiencing that unreserved Soweto support once again.
“This is also a great opportunity for our fans and the public to help us honour our past heroes and to motivate our team for their upcoming Vodacom Super Rugby campaign,” said Van Graan.
Saturday’s action at Orlando Stadium kicks off with a curtain-raiser featuring the Police Rugby Club against the Roodepoort Rugby Club with the Bulls locking horns with the Lions at 3pm.
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