Whiteley could be Lions' lucky charm in third Super Rugby final
The Lions have reached a third consecutive Super Rugby final and will make the daunting trip to Christchurch to face the eight-time winners and defending champions the Crusaders in a repeat of last year’s final.
JOHANNESBURG - The Lions have reached a third consecutive Super Rugby final and will make the daunting trip to Christchurch to face the eight-time winners and defending champions the Crusaders in a repeat of last year’s final.
The Johannesburg based side’s rejuvenation in recent years has been something to marvel, as they have come from being cast out of the competition to be the leading South African franchise, all in just five years.
Though they have struggled to get over the line in the two finals they have competed in, there is much optimism that their third attempt at winning a Super Rugby final will yield a positive result.
One man who is crucial in that bid for the Lions is their inspirational captain, Warren Whiteley, who will have his first taste of finals rugby after missing the two heartbreaking losses to the Hurricanes in 2016 and the Crusaders last year at Ellis Park through injury.
Whiteley’s captaincy could prove to be the difference and give the Lions the edge over a formidable Crusaders side in Christchurch. The experience and calming effect that Whiteley has in the Lions setup is crucial, as he can rally his men even when the chips are down.
When the Lions went down early against the Bulls in the final game of the regular season, it was Whiteley’s calm demeanor that sparked a great turnaround that saw his side overturn a 12-point deficit to eventually ran out 38-12 victors and secure the South African conference.
It was much the same in their semifinal against the Waratahs were they were down early but managed to thump the Australian side to reach yet another final.
With Whiteley fit and looking like he has overcome his injury concerns, his involvement in his first Super Rugby final on Saturday could prove to be the Lions lucky charm.
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