Emmanuel Tshituka feels ‘amnesia’ will be good for Lions ahead of Dragons clash

Emmanuel Tshituka of the Lions challenged by Andrea Zambonin and Matteo Nocera of the Zebre during the United Rugby Championships 2023 match between Lions v Zebre at the Ellis Park Stadium

The Lions will have to start with a clean slate according to Emmanuel Tshituka (pictured with the ball) ahead of his side’s United Rugby Championship clash against the Dragons at Ellis Park on Saturday. Picture: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published Nov 29, 2023


The Lions smashed their way through Zebre this past weekend but if they are still dwelling on the mauling of the Italian franchise, it’s nothing a good thwack to the head won’t fix.

Much like the classic trope, the heroic efforts of the past must be forgotten and consigned to the record books, only to be remembered and implemented again on Saturday against the Dragons in a United Rugby Championship clash at Emirates Airline Park. Kick-off is at 5pm.

“We can’t hold onto it,” the Lions’ Emmanuel Tshituka said on Tuesday, of the 61-19 victory.

“Obviously, we want to work on the good stuff that is there during the week, from the previous game, but going into this week there must be amnesia. We must reset and go through the same processes that we have been doing in the other weeks.

“We must not get too emotional in that assessment and how we review games. We did well this past weekend, but it means nothing if we can’t back it up again (against the Dragons).”

Imperious start

The Lions were imperious in the first half against Zebre, securing the bonus point and victory by the end of the stanza. They dominated all facets of play and expressed themselves with some beautiful running rugby, which was perhaps stifled previously by tough European conditions.

Zebre showed some dissension after half-time, while the clinical approach of the Lions – so apparent in the first 40 – faltered ever so slightly. With the Welsh outfit – whom the Lions have never lost to – in their sights, Tshituka and assistant coach Barend Pieterse revealed the areas where the team requires a bit more work.

Said Tshituka: “We conceded three tries against Zebre that we didn’t necessarily have to. We gave it to them a bit too easily.

“We scored nine tries and that is always good, but we want to be world class on both sides of the ball ... We need to be a lot more competitive and resilient when it comes to our defence, and it is something that we are working on and tightening up for Dragons.”

Pieterse, meanwhile, focused his attention on a key set piece.

“From a forwards point of view,” he said, “something that we set out for ourselves at the beginning of the season is to try and score more maul tries.

“We are a little bit behind where we want to be on that. That will be a good work-on for us each week.

“In saying that, the teams that you are playing against, you are not just going to go there and score a maul try. You have to work really, really hard and it is a set piece that we want to work on a little bit.”

No big injury worries

The Lions head into the clash against Dragons with no major injury concerns, except for a few “bumps and bruises”, according to Pieterse.

Meanwhile, the Lions Rugby Company confirmed yesterday that 19 players have re-signed with the union until the end of the 2024-25 season.

These include captain Marius Louw, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Edwill van der Merwe, Quan Horn, Rabz Maxwane, Reinhard Nothnagel, PJ Botha, Ruan Venter, Morne Brandon, Renzo du Plessis, Francke Horn, Morgan Naude, Morne van den Berg, Raynard Roets, Ruan Delport, Ruben Schoeman, Ruhan Straeuli, Rhynardt Rijnsburger and Manuel Rass.

It will come as good news to the team’s supporters and bring a degree of consistency to the selection process, as alluded to by Pieterse.

“That’s a mixture of experience and of younger players,” Pieterse said.

“Obviously, there are always things that you want to improve on as a union. At the moment, though, it shows the confidence the players have in the union and, hopefully, the coaching staff.”