Golden Lions coach Johan Ackerman revealed that his young players contributed greatly to their successful Currie Cup campaign.
The Lions defeated Western Province in the Currie Cup final on Saturday, capping of a perfect season where they became only the second team in the tournaments long history to be undefeated.
Ackermann heaped praise on his young stars that stepped up to fill the void left by often absent captain Warren Whiteley an the injured Jaco Kriel.
"The young guys really stepped up," he told The Star.
"Quite a few of the players left for Japan and Europe and at times Warren was with the Boks and Jaco was injured.
"Secondly, we were able to grow our leader-group. With Warren at the Boks we were encouraged to look at other leaders and in stepped Jaco, Howard (Mnisi), Ross (Cronje) and others
"Thirdly, our first five games this season were crucial…we learned to win ugly when we weren't playing so well. We clicked in the first half in that game against the Bulls, when both sides went into it on 25 log points. We knew if we won that game we'd be in a position to challenge for top spot and ensure we get a home semi-final and final. We did that."
In terms of the future, Ackermann beleives that continuity will help him build an even stronger team going forward into the 2016 Super Rugby season.
"Every team that’s dominated a period in South African rugby has had continuity," added the former Lions player.
"We're going to need that as well. Iif we manage that then we can be right up there. But, every team will again be strengthened next year, Springbok players will come back into the mix, we'll get a few players back (from Japan and Europe) and I know our players will be targets for other unions. We're going to have to fight to keep these guys here."