JOHANNESBURG – The showdown between the Sharks and Lions loose forwards promises to be as thrilling as it is physical.
For the home team, the Sharks, you have among others, the Du Preez twins, Jean-Luc and Dan, and for the Lions, Cyle Brink and Kwagga Smith. All four are possibly on the fringes of a World Cup spot so there’s plenty to play for when the teams clash in a Super Rugby match in Durban on Saturday (5.15pm).
There’s also the not-so-small matter that the last time the teams met, a few weeks ago at Ellis Park, the visitors won 42-5 in one of the biggest hidings dished out to the Lions in years.
One man who can’t wait for Saturday’s return fixture is Lions flank Brink.
“It was my first game back after being out for eight months. It was sore to lose here at Ellis Park,” said the powerful blindside specialist who returned after sitting out with a knee problem since August last year.
“Of course we want to make up for that result. It’s never nice losing to a South African team and it will be lekker if we can pull off a win.”
Brink didn’t want to say too much about going up against the Du Preez brothers, except that it was always enjoyable playing against the best in the competition.
“I’m just happy to be getting game time again. They’re both good players and one always wants to test oneself against the best.
“I don’t worry too much about who the opposition is, but about what I can do for the team.”
When Brink got injured last season - on two separate occasions, actually - he was close to making his debut for the Springboks. He admitted this week it hurt to be ruled out for so long at a time in his career when he was about to take the next big step forward.
“I suppose the injury came at the wrong time, but if you think like that you’re just going to get upset,” he said.
“I prefer to think of it as a lesson learned and that there is a bigger plan for me. Hopefully I can play well in the coming weeks and that kind of opportunity comes again.
“Getting a long-term injury is a mental battle, and you need your friends and family to keep you going, but I believe you come out stronger afterwards.
“I’m working towards getting back to the form I had last year when the injuries hit, and I’m hoping for a long injury-free run now, but in rugby anything can happen. Right now I just want to play a bit. It’s lekker being back on the field. I’m tired of being injured.”
The Lions team to face the Sharks in Durban on Saturday will be announced by coach Swys de Bruin around lunch-time today.@jacq_west