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Sport24.co.za | Whiteley: My role hasn't changed



Johannesburg
– Talismanic Golden Lions eighthman Warren Whitely may not have to carry the
burden of the captaincy but it will not diminish his influence on Saturday’s
Currie Cup final clash against Western Province at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

Whiteley
wore the captain’s armband in last year’s failed attempt at claiming the crown
when they narrowly lost to the self-same Western Province team in Cape Town.

The
28-year-old has been given a break from the captaincy with Jaco Kriel
stepping up to the plate and leading the team with aplomb.

“It
doesn’t make a difference at all (not being captain), my role hasn’t changed in
the side, Jaco has done exceptionally well and I am next to him all the way,” Whiteley said.

“We
have a great leadership group and that will be important going forward, young leadership strengthens your side as a whole.

“We’ve
seen great sides … their strong point is their leadership and we have grown.”

Whiteley
will feature in his third Currie Cup final and will be looking to win the title
for the second time after he was part of the title-winning team of 2011,

“I
have some great memories of that final and it is such a great privilege to be
at Ellis Park to be in front of our home supporters,” he said.

“The message from the coach this week was for us to go out and do our best and
put our bodies on the line and put in 100 percent.”

The
Lions went into last year’s final as slight favourites but playing Province in
their own backyard proved to be a leveller.

Although
both sides have a familiar look about them with only a few minor personnel
changes, Whiteley believes the teams have evolved since last year’s final.

“Both
sides are a bit different, I believe we’ve improved in the style we are playing
and they have also improved,” Whiteley said.

“A
final can go any way … it is important to pitch up on the day and bring our best
game. In the semi-final we know we weren’t at our best and we need to up that
performance to win in the final.”

While
the Lions proved over the last few years that South African teams can play
winning rugby with an expansive game plan, they have added a measure of maturity.

‘In
the last three years we haven’t changed the style, we just improved in our
decision making which is important when you get to a semi-final or a final,” he
said.

“Finals
are always close, so it is those crucial moments that will win it for you and
we are excited for the challenge.

“We’ve
gone through a lot in a year, we’ve gone through some close Super Rugby games
where we stuck to the end, we have grown in character.”

Kick-of on Saturday is at 13:45. 

Teams:

Golden Lions:

15. Andries Coetzee, 14. Courtnall Skosan, 13. Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 12. Howard Mnisi, 11. Anthony Volmink, 10. Marnitz Boshoff, 9. Ross Cronje, 8. Warren Whiteley, 7. Kwagga Smith, 6. Jaco Kriel (captain), 5. Franco Mostert, 4. Lourens Erasmus, 3. Julian Redelinghuys, 2. Robbie Coetzee, 1. Jacques van Rooyen

Substitutes: 16. Malcolm Marx, 17. Ruan Dreyer, 18. Fabian Booysen, 19. Stephan de Witt, 20. Jaco van der Walt, 21. Stokkies Hanekom, 22. Sampie Mastriet

Western Province:

15. Cheslin Kolbe, 14. Dillyn Leyds, 13. Johnny Kotze, 12. Juan de Jongh (captain), 11. Seabelo Senatla, 10. Robert du Preez, 9. Nic Groom, 8. Nizaam Carr, 7. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6. Rynhardt Elstadt, 5. Ruan Botha, 4. Jean Kleyn, 3. Wilco Louw, 2. Bongi Mbonambi, 1. Steven Kitshoff

Substitutes: 16. Michael Willemse, 17. Oli Kebble, 18. Chris van Zyl, 19. Jurie van Vuuren, 20. Jano Vermaak, 21. Kurt Coleman, 22. Huw Jones



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