Camaraderie key to Currie Cup success

There were times during the Super Rugby season when the spirit in the Lions camp could easily have been confused with that of an unbeaten team.

Lions centre Alwyn Hollenbach said on Wednesday he believed the same team spirit that was created by John Mitchell when he first took over as head coach had been carried over to the Currie Cup, and that it was one of the key elements to the side’s positive play.

“If you want to win a competition like the Currie Cup you have to have camaraderie between the guys and I think we are really on a good track in that regard,” said Hollenbach who was part of the Cheetahs squads that won the competition in 2005, 2006 (draw) and 2007.

“The guys are really sticking together and I feel that we are growing closer as a unit, and bonding, every week.”

For the former Free State centre, however, Saturday’s match against the Leopards was set to be viewed as a rare opportunity to remind his coaches what he had to offer in midfield.

Hollenbach replaced Doppies La Grange in the 16th minute of last week’s 49-11 victory over Griquas, and because of the hamstring injury his captain sustained, he was named in the starting team to face the Leopards on Saturday.

“Obviously it is bad for the team that Doppies is injured, but we must still step up and do the business, and I’m really looking forward to playing in the number 12 jersey again,” Hollenbach said.

“I played there during the Super 15 and I really love the position.”

Although one of his main strengths was his fearless approach to the tackle area, Hollenbach stressed that he would have to fulfill all his duties on match day.

“I just want to keep on playing and contributing to the team and the area where I think I can make an impact is on defence, although I understand that as a centre, attacking is just as important,” he said.

“At 12 you must be like a second flyhalf and put the backline away while still being very physical.”

Hollenbach would also not be told that the Leopards were any weaker than the sides the Lions had faced thus far.

“There are no teams that you can write off in the Currie Cup and you have to know that every weekend is going to be very hard,” he insisted.

“We can’t afford to take the Leopards lightly and therefore our training this week was the same as it would have been against any of the top ranked teams in the competition.”

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