LIONS coach Johan Ackermann has instructed his charges to block out the disappointment of dropping out of the Super Rugby series next season and to make the most of the opportunity to feature among the top teams in the Currie Cup series as they attempt to defend their title.
The Lions were dealt a blow last Thursday as they were voted out of Super Rugby to make way for the Southern Kings next season, leaving the players uncertain about what they would do for the first half of next year.
Ackermann is trying hard to keep his team in good spirits and focused on winning the Currie Cup, and said all their attention had been channelled into beating Western Province in Johannesburg on Saturday in their round-three clash.
"We have chosen not to speak about our exit from Super Rugby any more because there is nothing we can do about it," Ackermann said. "My message to the players was to control that which we can control, and that is how we perform in the Currie Cup.
"If we play well in the series, it will ease the situation, as it could open new doors for the team."
Ackermann expected a physical onslaught from Province, but he hoped his team could assert their authority in the set pieces and display the hunger to win that guided them to a 43-20 victory against the Cheetahs in their opening game.
Unfortunately for the Lions, they will be without star centre Waylon Murray for the next six weeks, as he will have surgery on Wednesday to repair a cracked bone in his knee, while hooker Callie Visagie faces a race against time to recover from a rib injury.
"Western Province are a good team," Ackermann said. "Their defence is fantastic and they have dangerous players out wide, so we will have our work cut out.
"Apart from boasting exciting players like Springboks Gio Aplon and Juan de Jongh, talented flank Siya Kolisi will also want to make his presence felt after returning from the Springbok camp.
"They can beat any team when they are on form and they will want to build on their victory against Griquas last week."
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