Super Rugby

Lions are on 'a learning curve'

Elton Jantjies (Gallo Images)
Elton Jantjies (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Lions flyhalf general Elton Jantjies believes his team aren’t going through a tough time at the moment, but merely a “learning curve” that they need to get themselves out of.

The Lions have lost three of their last four games, two of them at home, as the concern grows along with an injury list. But they still head the South African conference and will face off with the Stormers this coming weekend in their Super Rugby match, looking to preserve their two year unbeaten record against local franchises, according to website.

But Jantjies was positive despite the concerns currently surrounding the team, and believes that hard work and dedication will lift the Lions from their current slump in form.

“I don’t see it as a tough time. I think it a lot of learning we are going through at the moment. But it is something that is quick to fix. It is no major concerns for us. We just need to keep working hard, keep raising our effort on the field and the results will come,” he said.

“It’s not frustration, but we aren’t happy making silly mistakes inside the system. It is stuff that we can control, and we can only control the things on the field and it is up to us to take up that responsibility. That is rugby, the ball bounces your way or the other way, but we still need to put ourselves in a position to get the win.

“I don’t think there is anything wrong from my point of view, we just need to keep on working hard. We are working on those things we know needs to be right and we know the results will definitely come.”

Despite the fact that Jantjies started his career with the Lions when they were in a deeper, darker spot and far from the outfit they now are, he believes the only way to handle the current challenge is to simply focus on the moment.

“We don’t even look at the history. I just think about last week, or think about this weekend’s game. The Stormers is going to be a big game, that is the focus at the moment, to make sure we pitch up on Saturday.

“We had a shortened round but luckily thanks to our management team and our medical staff, they are really good at managing our bodies. We will have to come out on Saturday and play for 90 minutes, because we know South African derbies are always tough. But we just need to focus on ourselves and not worry about the opponents.

“You always have a character talk. But that is our battle talk within the group. It is something we will never get rid of. It is something we drive during training sessions as well. We just need to keep on driving that, driving our standards and we will get to where we want to be. We just need to take it step by step, and training session by training session.

“We don’t have to focus on the results, we need to make sure we enjoy the game and that we score tries. That is what we want to do – to inspire the nation.”

The match against the Stormers – being in the same group has a double significance, being a home match and also because a victory almost counts as double in a group that will be hard-fought until the end.

“Every game is big, especially with 15 teams playing Super Rugby. But for us it is about winning those small battles, improving as a team and making sure we live our efforts, before we even look at the result. We are going to have to work on certain things, and fix those things and then the results will come – depends on the stuff we fix during the week, how well we do that and how well we implement the game plan, then the results will follow.”

The one thing he does admit to though, is the fact that the other South African franchises’ move to play a more expansive game plan, and at times mimicking the Lions play, has made it harder for the Lions to plan for.

“It’s definitely not easier to plan for, because now you have to go to all areas of space. You have to cover the backfield, inside close, the middle and the edge as well. All of the areas they are exploiting at the moment is good to see, especially from the Bulls. All the franchises are looking to play in a certain way, that can only compliment the Springboks.”

Jantjies knows the pressure may not yet be on the team and the current slump may simply be a blip on the radar. But he also knows that only his team can lift themselves from it. And prove their fans’ fears wrong.

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