Johannesburg — The Lions have every reason to sport fat grins that are plastered all over their faces this week, as they look to complete an unbeaten European run against Edinburgh on Friday.
After a lacklustre start to the new United Rugby Championship season which saw them beaten by the Bulls in the opening match, the Joburgers are creating a degree of buzz around their performances with two solid away wins against Ospreys and Cardiff.
“It is a great start for us,” said their attacking coach Ricardo Laubscher with an irrepressible smile on Monday.
“We are really happy with the momentum. It’s two-out-two so far. There is a nice buzz in the camp. The players are really aligned in terms of how we want to play the game.”
And who can blame Laubscher for such positively intoxicating vibes. It was a sentiment shared by Lions No 8 Francke Horn.
The 23-year-old has had a decent start to his season and is slowly building momentum and form. Against Cardiff, he arguably ourplayed the much more experienced Taulupe Faletau, making seven carries, beating three defenders, gaining 30m, scoring a try, affecting a turnover and not missing one of his 11 tackles.
The conditions in Wales have not perhaps been conducive to his playing style, but there is no doubt he is putting in the hard graft. Like coach Laubscher, Horn is feeling something special fermenting between his teammates
“Two-out-of-two obviously creates a big buzz in the camp,” Horn said.
“There is alignment between the senior members and coaching staff. We have a plan and we are sticking to the plan, and because the results are coming our way there is no reason to divert from that plan.”
The South African teams have only lost one match so far in the URC season – the Lions defeat to the Bulls – and after taking a moment to collect his thoughts, Laubscher gave his opinion as to why he believes that is the case.
“The main point of difference is the way the refs interpret the game,” Laubscher said.
“Secondly, the conditions: I think we have a better understanding of how to deal with the weather on this side. We have to have a wet plan and a dry plan.
“On the day, it is all about the ability to adapt, whether it is raining or not. The players now understand how to deal with different game plans because you get challenges every week in different ways when you play these teams.”
As was the case in Cardiff last week, testing conditions are expected in Edinburgh on Friday. It will then once again be a case of who adapts the best, and who sticks to their game plan and systems that will seize the day.