Rudolph Jacobs
Rugby Journalist
1 minute read
19 Mar 2014
6:00 am

Lions building a Joburg fortress

Rudolph Jacobs

The confidence the Lions gained from starting their Super Rugby campaign at home – in contrast to undertaking the tough journey Down Under first – has reaped rewards for the side.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann. Picture: Gallo Images

While the Lions played three of their first four games away it was still on local soil in Bloemfontein, Durban and Pretoria, and for such an inexperienced squad it was an ideal opportunity to find their feet.

“There will always be a debate whether it’s better to tour first or to play at home first, but regardless, it remains a tough competition whichever comes first,” said Lions coach Johan Ackermann.

But having to face local opposition in their first four games before facing the Blues in round five was familiar territory for the Lions, having opposed them in the Currie Cup.

“I think the players did gain some confidence having started at home as it is so much tougher to play, for instance, New Zealand sides at home than in their own backyard,” Ackermann said.

After the Reds game this weekend, the Lions have a bye, followed by home games against the Crusaders and the Sharks and the Stormers at Newlands before their away leg start on May 3 against the Chiefs in Hamilton.

Ellis Park Stadium manager Willie Geldenhuys said the team’s great results have reflected positively in their discussions with suite owners.

“When it is going well with the team, it is easier to convince suite owners,” he said. “Not a lot was expected of the team but they are busy exceeding expectations.”