JOHANNESBURG - The Lions are still hurting after copping a big hiding from Western Province last weekend – and the team they’re looking to take it out on are the Sharks, who they face in Durban this Saturday.
The men from the Cape handed Ivan van Rooyen’s team an unexpected 65-38 thumping last weekend, a result that has stung the Joburgers. “For sure it’s going to be a motivating factor for us this week,” said Lions hooker Corne Fourie on Tuesday.
“We’re emotional about it ... no one wants to walk around with two blue eyes. Credit to Western Province, they were very good on the day, but it’s unheard of that the Lions get bullied in their own backyard. We’re going to take what happened to Durban and look to make things right.”
Fourie said the players, especially the younger ones, would have learned a number of valuable lessons from Saturday. “That was my second biggest defeat in a Lions jersey, with only the loss to the Hurricanes in 2016 (50-17) bigger than this one. We all realised we have a personal, individual responsibility to do our jobs, to make our tackles.
“You can be taught a system by the defence coach (Joey Mongalo), but he can’t make the tackles for you. And as we saw with the Springboks (in Wellington) tackles are still important, the key to winning games.”
Fourie said he was looking forward to the big physical battle awaiting his team in Durban. “They’re a tough side, very physical up front. They also pride themselves in their set-pieces; that’s where we’re going to have to take them on first. I’m excited about the challenge.”
Fourie has only been playing hooker for two seasons after making the move from loosehead prop. He said he is enjoying the freedom the position has given him. “I wanted a new challenge, and it’s given my career a bit of a spark,” he said.
“The freedom there is also nice. When I used to hit a gap with the number one on my back people said it wasn’t my job and I shouldn’t be running with the backs, but now with the two on my back it’s almost expected of me. That’s enjoyable.”
The 30-year-old, who spent much of his early career playing for the Pumas after finishing high school in Pretoria, will leave the Lions at the end of the year to join Western Province, the very side who gave him and his team-mates blue eyes last Saturday.
“Look, my priority is to help the Lions make the semis and the final. I’ve loved my time here, plenty of doors have opened for me since joining the union, but things happen during a career and this door will be closing. That’s going to be the next chapter of my career and I’m looking forward to it.” Saturday’s game in Durban kicks off at 5.05pm.