CAPE TOWN – Often in times of adversity it is good for someone to maintain a sense of humour. That person for the Stormers is utility back Dillyn Leyds.
After a “good honest Monday” where players and coaching staff eye-balled each other, realising they had let themselves down horribly at Loftus, Leyds could still raise his head above the doom clouds of social media to crack a few jokes about how the Stormers warmed up “70’s style” last Saturday after their bus was stuck in traffic en-route to the Super Rugby opener at Loftus.
“It was not an ideal warm up. It was a case of a couple of leg stretches and then a few sprints and then we had to play. It was like I imagine it would have been in the 1970s,” the Stormers fullback quipped.
The Stormers performance at Loftus was no laughing matter though. And it only gets tougher this week. Having been outfought, out-thought and bullied in the Bulls kraal, they now face a Lions team fresh off a confidence-boosting victory over the Jaguares in Argentina.
It was a significant victory for Swys de Bruin’s men, for it showed that despite the departure of a string of stalwarts that drove the Lions to three consecutive finals, they remain the premier force on the South African Super Rugby scene.
In fact, they could be even stronger for despite fielding six debutants last Saturday, they returned from Beunos Aires for the first time in four visits with the points.
“The Lions have been the top team for the last couple of years, and to my mind they are still the No 1 team in the country, even though they have lost a couple of big names since last year,” Leyds said.
“They still have class players. They have a backline that is phenomenal. Having Ruan Combrink on the bench for the game in Argentina shows how much depth they have there, and we all know what Elton (Jantjies) can do.
“They have lost a bit at forward but they have had new guys come in that did really well against the Jaguares in Argentina. Playing in Buenos Aires is tough, and the Lions showed there what they are capable of and that at this point they are still the No 1 side.”
But does that mean there’s no point in turning up at Newlands?
“We can definitely win. Of course we can. We love playing at Newlands, and even though what happened at Loftus was disastrous and certainly wasn’t in our plans, it was just one of those days.
We still retain the belief, we still believe we have the players in the right positions to go far in this competition. And although our backs are to the wall there is no better opportunity to make a big statement than against the Lions.”
Often outrageous results can be born out of desperation. And a rugby team with their “backs to the wall” is no exception.