Rabz Maxwane wants to score a few more points for the Lions
JOHANNESBURG - It was a moment of brilliance, the Lions summoning the spirit of old and memories of their mid-2010s dominance when wing Rabz Maxwane dotted down for his first competitive try for the team against the Stormers last weekend.
Starting from within their own 22, Lions scrumhalf Morne van den Berg delivered a crisp pass to captain Elton Jantjies, who passed it on to Maxwane.
A few steps forward. A pop pass.
Jaco Kriel, now with ball in hand, unleashes one of his trademark runs of yore, sprinting down the touchline towards the halfway line.
A pass back to the supporting Jantjies follows, the captain in turn draws in the last Stormers defender, releasing Maxwane and now there is no stopping the wing as he streaks off to complete a truly sensational try.
Said Maxwane in an interview yesterday of that 11th minute moment: “I hadn’t played for a long time (due to Covid-19). Obviously I knew it was coming after the Sharks game the week before. It was a happy moment for me to put points on for the Lions and hopefully I’ll score a few more for the team.”
The 25-year-old might find himself in new surroundings but the job description remains the same: Score tries and lots of them. And this weekend he has another opportunity to do so when the Lions face early tournament pace-setters the Cheetahs on Saturday (kick-off 4.30pm) at Emirates Airline Park.
Maxwane knows the Bloemfontein side intimately, having plied his trade at the defending Currie Cup champions for three years.
“The Cheetahs are definitely playing good rugby,” said Maxwane of his former team, “but we are also playing good rugby at times.
“We need to just play for 80 minutes and we are obviously working on that. I think, later in the match, they are going to come for us and it is something we are expecting. There is a process and we have to trust in that process.
“We obviously want to win,” Maxwane continued, “but we also can’t take away from the fact that we have to build towards a win.”
After two matches and two losses, the Lions find themselves dwelling at the bottom of the standings, only ahead of the Griquas on points difference. The team starts a four-match home run this weekend, however, which could quickly change the complexion of the standings.
With no Springbok selection to be concerned with this year, the big focus for all players is improving and competing week-in and week-out to help secure a favourable position for their team in Super Rugby Unlocked and for the second round Currie Cup which will follow in late November.
Looming just over the horizon is also Pro16 participation which, although not an imminent concern for the Lions, is seemingly what the Johannesburg team is building towards.
As that particular tournament’s top try scorer in 2019, Maxwane believes the South African rugby loving public is in for a treat.
“It differs obviously when we play at home or overseas,” said Maxwane of the Pro League.
“Ultimately, the conditions are not as great there but you can still play the type of rugby that should be balanced. The players can run and also play a technical game. It should be exciting because you will get the best of both worlds: You are either playing running rugby or being more physical.”
Meanwhile, the Lions confirmed on Thursday that nine of their players are in quarantine after bring exposed to Covid-19 and will not participate in this weekend’s encounter.
The union did not disclose the names of the players but a clearer picture of who has been infected should emerge when coach Ivan van Rooyen announces his team.
Willem Alberts withdrew last week from the team and has been in self-isolation since after it was confirmed that he had been in contact with a positive Covid-19 case.