Experience is our ally - Cronje

Johannesburg - Lions halfback Ross Cronje believes his team’s experience will be a telling factor in the upcoming Super Rugby playoff rounds.

The Lions need to beat the Vodacom Bulls in their final home fixture this weekend to get their home quarterfinal spot, and know that once they get to the knockout rounds of the 19-week competition, experience will play a massive part in the outcome, especially if they need to win away from home, according to SuperSport.com.

Cronje believes this weekend’s game, while the last fixture, is a playoff game for his team, especially as they can fall from second to seventh given the complicated system that governs the tournament.

“It’s always nice to be in the playoffs. The guys are fired up and ready to go and for us every single game, especially starting this weekend is a playoff, so quite excited,” he said.

“Definitely experience - you ask anyone. Have a look at the South African team that won the 2007 World Cup and the amount of experience in that team was incredible. And I think the amount of experience in the Lions’ team at the moment, with a couple of exciting youngsters is just incredible and if we can keep growing and moving forward, the way we are doing things now it is only going to get better.”

The Lions were the Bulls biggest fans last week against the Jaguares, who are just behind them on the log, and when the Bulls beat the Argentinean side things got a bit easier for the Lions, who will finish top of the South African conference if they win this coming weekend.

“I think it is the first time the whole of Joburg has been rooting for the Bulls, but well-done to them, they are playing great rugby at the moment and it is going to be a difficult game this weekend. They have a couple of good combinations that have started to click, so ja very excited,” he added.

Cronje will come face to face with the two Bulls scrumhalves who replaced him in the Springbok side, and he is relishing the chance to face both Embrose Papier and Ivan van Zyl in a battle that will be interesting to watch.

“It’s definitely exciting playing against quality players, and both have been very good for the Bulls and got their chance this year to represent the country, so well-done to both of them. I’m just excited to get on the part this weekend and play some good rugby with the boys.”

Cronje adds that he won’t look past this weekend’s game and the permutations at hand. He simply wants his side to perform this weekend and knows that it is just another pressure game for the Lions.

“I think every player is different. For me it is just focus on the job at hand. If it means we have to go overseas and play there we have to go do a job we have to do that. But it would be nice to have a home quarterfinal and have all of our support around us. It is the best stadium to play in the entire world. So ja look, we would like to have home quarters but if we don’t we still have a job at hand to do.

“Look I think this whole year there has been a lot of pressure on us. Every single game that we have gone into, every single team has gone out to beat us. So literally we have not had an easy game the whole year and we’ve had to get ourselves up for every single game. Ja the Bulls don’t have anything to play for, except for pride but I still believe they’d like to get one over us. I don’t think it has happened in a while.”

The Lions will name their team for the game on Thursday.

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