The Lions have little time to lick their wounds after losing the Super Rugby final as they slot straight into the Currie Cup which started this past weekend.
The Golden Lions are the defending Currie Cup champions and although they will lose nine first-choice players to the Springboks, coach Johan Ackerman will be eager for his team to continue their stunning form so far this season.
The Lions finished last year’s tournament undefeated, but their depth will be tested this time around as they adapt to the loss of key players as well as being a week behind the rest of the teams in terms of preparation.
“It’s now back to the Currie Cup for those players who’re not going to be playing for the Boks,” Ackermann said after his team’s Super Rugby final defeat to the Hurricanes on Saturday.
“It’s been an amazing season so far. There are many more positives than negatives … we achieved some great victories over the course of the Super Rugby competition, against all the South African teams and also against several of the overseas teams who we’d not beaten before.
“There are a number of things we achieved this year that we’d not done in the past… so I’m proud of what was an amazing season.”
The Lions struggled against the Hurricanes in the Super Rugby final at a wet Westpac Stadium, but despite losing 20-3 they were never out-played or dominated by the Canes. The hosts simply grabbed two half chances that came their way, wing Cory Jane and fly-half Beauden Barrett scoring the only tries of the match.
Malcolm Marx – the only new cap in the Springboks Rugby Championship squad named on Saturday – said after the game that it was disappointing to go down in the final the way they did.
“I suppose we could have avoided giving away those two tries,” Marx said. “But credit to them, they played well. It was a great experience and it was a real blessing to play in a Super Rugby final. It’s a dream for any player.”
Marx’s front-row partner Dylan Smith added: “I think we’ll all take a lot out of this final. It was a good experience in the wet and cold.”