Alberts happy to put feet up as Lions regroup before final URC surge

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Alberts happy to put feet up as Lions regroup before final URC surge
Alberts happy to put feet up as Lions regroup before final URC surge

Africa-Press – South-Africa. Even though the hook on which his boots will soon hang is in touching distance, Willem Alberts isn’t about to scoff at the chance to take some time off.

This week the United Rugby Championship (URC) yields to the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals, and it gives Alberts an opportunity for a breather before he and his Lions teammates tend to some unfinished business in Cape Town next week.They meet the Stormers in their final URC league match with a bonus point victory holding the key to their potential participation in the top eight of the competition.

Most players might have preferred to ride the wave of their confidence-building win over Glasgow Warriors at Ellis Park last week, but not 40-year-old Alberts.

“I’m happy to have a week off,” he said with a mischievous grin.

“In professional rugby these days you y welcome a week off.

“It’s training and games the whole year. To get a week off, spend some time with the family, regroup for the last match and getting the body fresh is a positive for me.”He admits, though, the win imbued the Lions with confidence that will come in handy against the Stormers.

“This is a great game to fill up that belief bottle.”

Head coach Ivan van Rooyen reminded his charges that there will be work to do this week, though this close to the end of the season the Lions will be far from full throttle.

“The first few days we will freshen up a bit. We are in week 44 of a season of 44, so there is a fine balance between preparation and rest. It will be about recovery and prep and the second week is about getting the bodies ready.”

As much as the Lions know they will have to deliver a supreme effort in their physicality and work rate in Cape Town, they will also have to deliver a battle plan that is bulletproof.

“The Stormers have exceptional X-factor and if you’re playing into that they can really punish you,” noted Van Rooyen.

“We have to look very closely at how we can put them under pressure. Obviously it is a derby. We have to win to get into the top eight, they will feel they have to win to get into the top four. I can’t think of a better occasion than two South African teams willing to punch to the end.”

The Lions will almost certainly be without flank Ruan Venter, who was red carded against the Warriors.

Van Rooyen was loath to comment on the merits of the card Venter received in the 36th minute of the clash against the Warriors.

“I don’t want to elaborate on the red card, whether it is two yellows and worth it.”

As much as the Lions showed admirable character against the erstwhile log leaders, the Stormers have had to display resolve in their two away wins over the Dragons and Connacht. They were far from their best in those matches but displayed fortitude when it mattered.

A splendid virtue that might be, but director of rugby John Dobson wants his players to perform to their true potential.

“Maybe we shouldn’t be relying on our character as much as we do. We aren’t putting away teams like we should,” said Dobson.

“Saying that, there is an amazing culture and work ethic across this group of players.

“For us to defend like that is not something we coach, it’s in the group. There is a very special caring for each other.

“It’s frustrating that it’s a game that is so close, but at the end how we shut it down speaks volumes of the character of this team.”

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