Vodacom Western Province captain Anton van Zyl doesn't expect any favours from his former team-mates at the Lions when they do battle in an Absa Currie Cup match at Newlands on Saturday.
The former Rondebosch High schoolboy was a stalwart at the Lions before moving back to the Cape last year. On Saturday he will be leading the beaten semi-finalists of last year against a resurgent Lions team under new coach John Mitchell.
"Any game in this Currie Cup is a special one and a tough one. Even though I only left the Lions last year, there have been a helluva lot of changes with two different coaching structures.
"I'm not too familiar with them anymore, but one thing I know is that they will be coming to Cape Town thinking they can win the game and they'll be going flat-out to achieve that goal."
Last weekend against the Cheetahs Van Zyl and his fellow hard men played a huge part in the away victory, getting the better of the much-vaunted home pack. Van Zyl, however, was not prepared to take anything for granted.
"I know the stats were quite favourable for us in the set piece last week, but there are still certain areas in the scrum and lineout that we're looking to tweak and improve on.
"While stats do tell a story, they can also give you a false sense of security, and we know Saturday will bring a different challenge and it's one we'll have to be up for. It seems like most teams raise their game when they play WP and it's something that you've got to be ready for."
He expects the Lions under former All Black coach Mitchell to be tough and aggressive, particularly up front. "I think they're going to be combative up front, with a very physical approach to the game - that's synonymous with the Lions - and I don't think the backs will be afraid to give the ball flight."
Van Zyl also expects a battle royal in the lineouts, an aspect of the play his team pride themselves on. "I think the Lions will place a lot of focus on the lineout. (forwards coach Johan) Ackermann is a recent Bok legend, and Franco (Van der Merwe) is an outstanding lineout forward and I'm sure Wikus van Heerden will play a role there, so I'm expecting pressure on our ball."
Van Zyl said stepping into the leadership role was not difficult at all because of the quality of the players around him. "It was exactly the start we were looking for. My job was made all the easier by the players sticking their hands up and by fulfilling their roles..."
The talented second-rower would surely be looking for another good win to make the road to the semi-final a bit easier.
Teams for Newlands:
Vodacom Western Province: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Fabian Juries, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Paul Bosch, 11 Frikkie Welsh, 10 Willem de Waal, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Rynardt Elstadt, 6 Pieter Louw, 5 Anton van Zyl (captain), 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 JD Moller, 18 JC Kritzinger, 19 Martin Muller, 20 Pieter Myburgh, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Lionel Cronjé.
Lions: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg 13 Marius Delport, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Herkie Kruger, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Franco van der Merwe (captain), 6 Derick Minnie, 5 David Bulbring, 4 George Earl, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 JC van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Kevin Buys, 18 Trevor Hall, 19 Wikus van Heerden, 20 Chris Jonck, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Pieter Engelbrecht.
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Ben Crouse, Marc van Zyl
TMO: Johann Meuwesen