Crisis could make Lions stronger - De Jongh

Juan de Jongh says they will not underestimate the embattled Lions in their Currie Cup encounter.

The MTN Lions. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Western Province centre Juan de Jongh on Thursday said the crisis at the Lions will only make the team stronger.

The Johannesburg team are coming to terms with being relegated from Super Rugby last week.

At the same time, the Lions are set to lose R6,6m in broadcast fees after the South African Rugby Union (Saru) intervened to end a long-running dispute the union has had with its franchise partners.

Province will face the Currie Cup Champions at Ellis Park on Saturday.

De Jongh said the team can pull through.

"It will bring them together because they are in this together. I believe this challenge they are faced with is going to make them stronger."

De Jongh said playing the Lion at home is never easy.

"We've got to be on our A-game this weekend because playing them at home is never easy."

Meanwhile, Lions coach Johan Ackerman is confident his Lions players are handling the off field pressures very well.

The union has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons lately after being relegated from Super Rugby.

The EP Lions will take their place in the new Super Rugby season.

Ackerman said the players are not hung up on the boardroom matters.

"I hope they can handle it well. However, I must be honest with you, on the field I get a great response from the players. I told them there's nothing we can do about the past; we just have to focus on the future."

Butch James shifts to centre to replace the injured Waylon Murray, who has already spent so much time on the sidelines in recent past.

Ackerman said it does not look good.

"He's going to be out for a minimum of six weeks, we hope not longer."

Kickoff is at 5:05pm.