The Lions will once again be out to try and break their local derby losing streak that has now stretched to seven games when they take on the Sharks in their United Rugby Championship (URC) clash in Durban on Friday night.
The Lions have managed only one win over an SA franchise in the URC to date, after they upset the Stormers in Cape Town last season.
Since then the Lions were beaten home and away by the Sharks and Bulls and at home by the Stormers last season, while they also lost home games against the Bulls and Stormers earlier this season.
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“It is definitely important for us. We beat the Stormers down in Cape Town and since then we haven’t been able to win a game against South African opposition,” explained Lions assistant coach Albert van den Berg.
“It is a little bit of a mental block when we play against our own players. When we play against overseas players the guys are a bit more open and just compete and go for it. The mental block is there for South African sides but it is not something that is going to keep us from fighting.
“We want to be competitive, we want to stay in the race and to make sure when the opportunities are there we take it. The Sharks this weekend is a good opportunity for us to show what we have prepared for,” he added.
“We know what they are going to bring, they have a good kicking game and great backs, good forwards and their mauls are very important for them. It is a case for us to get over that mental block and to start well, and to stay in the race as long as possible and hopefully get the win.”
It will, however, be a massive uphill battle for the Lions to try and upset what is expected to be a Springbok laden Sharks side that is looking to build on some good momentum after their impressive start to the Champions Cup competition.
“I said to the guys to please look forward to this game. It isn’t every game that you get the chance to play against Thomas (du Toit), Eben (Etzebeth), Siya Kolisi, all the guys that are Springboks and that is the only place you can go and measure yourself,” said Van den Berg.
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“We are looking forward to the game. It is a game where we can measure ourselves, see where our shortcomings are and what things are working and not working for us,” he added.
“We know it is going to be physical, they have a great side and playing in Durban is not easy, but it is something we are looking forward to.”