Super Rugby

Kwagga confident Lions can overcome void left by Whiteley

Kwagga Smith (Gallo Images)
Kwagga Smith (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Losing captain Warren Whiteley is a massive blow for the Lions ahead of this weekend's Super Rugby showdown with their neighbours, the Bulls, but that simply means the rest of the leadership group needs to step up.

Kwagga Smith, who deputised when Whiteley left the field in the first half in the loss against the Stormers, believes that while he will miss his inspirational captain, he knows that "you don't have to have the badge as captain to lead" the team into battle.

Smith told that the senior leadership group will show their mettle and make sure while Whiteley is out that they continue to fight for every point on the field. Whiteley is scheduled to return in six to eight weeks following a torn pectoral muscle injury.

"There are a lot of leaders in the team and that helps a lot - I know Warren is out now, but we have a lot of leaders, there isn't just one guy and you don't have to have the badge as captain to lead. For us it is good, it is a full week of training, we didn't have that last week, the guys came back from Argentina and it wasn't a full week.

"This week we are getting into our stride. We are getting into form and having a Monday, having a Tuesday to train, so it's a better build-up."

Whiteley remains a massive part of the side, and as such is a big loss to the Lions.

"Warren is a big loss for us, but luckily he isn't too serious and he will be back. For us it is about just keeping on going, a lot of times when Warren was out in previous years, Jaco Kriel took over. For us, there are a lot of leaders and the character of the team is to get stronger, and to play for Warren. I know in his heart it hurts to not to be on the field. But he is here and helping with video sessions and helping with the team, so it is great to have him contributing. For us it is just a step up to show and to keep on going."

Smith is keen to get out on the park on the team's home ground and believes the Bulls will provide them with a tough test this weekend.

"Yes, it is awesome to be at home again. It's a normal week for us, not being away or not coming home from a trip. It's a normal week for us, we are playing at home in front of our own crowd, so it will be awesome to run out there and just to give our all to play for the fans.

"Obviously you watch the games because you play against them, you have to watch the game and analyse. I think the Bulls are a good team and they are trying to play an expansive game of rugby so far. They've got good players with good skills, but for us it is just to focus on our job. We don't need to focus on other teams, just focus on ourselves and to do what we can to the best of our abilities. Because that is what I think in the second half against the Stormers, we went a bit off what we are capable of. We can focus on that and do it well."

And he believes they will be able to counter the Bulls tactical kicking.

"We have our plans against that, we have analysed that and know what they want to do, just as they have analysed us and know what we want to do. On the day it is all about the focus and being sharp on the focus you have. You might get one opportunity or you might get 10 opportunities, but you need to use the opportunities you get."

The Lions will name their side on Thursday, with Saturday's clash scheduled for 15:05.

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