Jacques van der Westhuyzen

By Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Head of Sport

Lions looking for ‘pleasure’ spot in URC match-up against Stormers

Nuggety No 9 Morne van den Berg will be hoping for a big performance from himself, but from the Lions team as well.

Lions scrumhalf Morne van den Berg is hoping to make another big impression when his team take on the Stormers in a United Rugby Championship fixture in Cape Town on Saturday, with not only a place in the quarter-finals potentially on the line, but possibly a place in the Springbok team for the Test against Wales next month.

The Lions, who are ninth on the points table, need a win in Cape Town against the fifth-placed Stormers, and a few other results to go their way on the final weekend of regular season action, to qualify for the quarter-finals. The home team are already secured of their place in the top eight.

Van den Berg has been one of his team’s star performers this season, so much so that he received an invitation to join a big group of invitees to the Springboks’ alignment camps in April and earlier this month.

What it means is Bok boss Rassie Erasmus believes Van den Berg could potentially play for the Boks, possibly against Wales in the one-off Test in London on June 22 or maybe against Portugal in Bloemfontein in the middle of July.

Playing behind dominant pack

Van den Berg says his performance this weekend, as is always the case, will depend heavily on what the big men up front do first.

“I suppose there’s always a huge amount of pleasure that comes with one’s pack dominating the opposition,” Van den Berg said this week, referring to the Lions’ forwards getting on top of their opponents recently.

“It’s nice if you can dominate someone … and see the pack going forward. It’s a big pressure release (for the team) and is a momentum builder.

“I’m keen to see what our boys can do (up front). It’s a huge game for the team, but also the pack, but I back our boys to give me a good platform again.

“When that happens you know it’s going to be a good day, with a platform to launch from, and to set up opportunities.”

Stormers’ X-factor players

The Lions will look to play their usual high-tempo, ball-in-hand game against the Stormers, but according to Van den Berg nothing will come easy.

“We have a plan, we’ve prepared well, it’s now about pitching up on the day and doing your job, and not letting too many external factors play a role,” said the nuggety No 9.

“The Stormers are really good in broken play, they’ve got some X-factor players if you give them time, guys who can bring the magic. So we’re just going to have to be smart and close down their space and time.”

The good news for the Lions is regular captain Marius Louw is fit to play again after missing the last match against Glasgow Warriors.