They can’t escape the reality that the pressure is following them around ahead of Saturday’s key Super Rugby date against the Stormers at Ellis Park, stressed Lions coach Swys de Bruin.
Trying to avoid a third straight defeat after going down to the Jaguares and the Crusaders, SA Conference leaders the Lions need an adrenaline boost before going on a challenging tour Down Under.
“We have won four and lost three, so it’s one of those games where we need to go for maximum points, it’s at home and it’s before we tour,” said De Bruin.
“It’s not about added pressure, but the pressure is there and we can’t hide from that.”
There will be massive interest in the first start for the Lions’ Springbok wing Ruan Combrinck, while the Stormers have been boosted with the return of their veteran Bok No 9 Jano Vermaak.
“To use golfing terms, we started with a few birdies so we are still there,” said De Bruin.
“For us it’s about refocusing and working on what we know we can do and the Stormers will bounce back as well, they are also coming off a loss.”
With a big battle to come between the packs, the key pivotal roles of the Lions’ Elton Jantjies and his rising opposite number Damian Willemse could have a big influence on the battle.
The Lions’ unbeaten run of 19 matches against fellow SA teams in the competition is not something De Bruin believes will have any influence on the encounter.
“We haven’t mentioned it to the team whatsoever because we are not thinking about that at all. It hasn’t crossed my mind either,” he said.
“I would rather change it around – why do we battle to beat the Kiwi sides?”
While their defence was much better last week, the Lions will never discard their ambitious approach, said De Bruin.
“We spoke a bit of our balance in the game over the last couple of weeks and we rather want to talk about attack, defence is almost a negative word.”
“So that’s why it’s important that we keep our spacing and trust our system in defence that we rather see it as an attacking possibility.”