JOHANNESBURG – Golden Lions Currie Cup coach Ivan van Rooyen has opted to look at the positives over the course of the 2018 season rather than the fact his side have come up short after losing in the semi-finals on Saturday.
The Lions, minus several first-choice players who are either playing in Japan, out injured, or being rested by the Springbok management team, lost 33-24 to the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.
“It hurts now, but for the union this has been a massive step forward this season,” said Van Rooyen, who handled the coaching duties in the absence of senior Super Rugby boss Swys de Bruin.
“Over the course of the season, we used between 11 and 13 under-21 players, so while the result is disappointing, we’ve taken a big step forward.”
Among the youngsters to get a chance and shine in this year’s shortened competition were exciting back Wandisile Simelane, and forwards like James Venter, Jo-Hanko de Villiers, Len Massyn, Rhyno Herbst, Pieter Jansen, Chegrin Fillies and the stand-out No 8 Hacjivah Dayimani.
“It was a great opportunity for our youngsters,” said Van Rooyen, “but on the day, the Sharks handled the pressure best. I’m proud of my guys though.
“We always strive to work hard, have a good work ethic, show character, have honesty... we could have lied down (after being 23-3 down just after halftime), but the guys stood up (in the second half), and I’m proud of them for doing that,” said Van Rooyen.
The young Lions coach said the windy conditions in Durban hadn’t helped his side. “It’s always a massive challenge playing away in a semi-final, and more so in Durban, with the wind pumping. When we get a 5km per hour wind in Joburg, we think it’s a storm.”
The Lions will now have time off before getting together again towards the end of November to start preparations for next year’s Super Rugby competition.
Thank you to the Lions fans for your support this season!
We can't wait to have you back at Emirates Airline Park in 2019.
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