VIDEO: How Lions players took matters into their own hands
Seasoned Springbok prop Ruan Dreyer said facing a high-flying Glasgow Warriors is a ‘good challenge’ for the Lions, despite coming at the end of one of the most dramatic and tumultuous weeks in the franchise’s storied history.
A candid players’ meeting on Thursday set the stage for the team to emerge magnanimously from the dire situation they find themselves in.
Dreyer fronted up to the media after a week littered with reports of a disconnect between the players and management.
Lions Rugby Company Chief Executive Officer Rudolf Straeuli and board Chairman Altmann Allers both took exception to a @rugby365com report that raised questions about administrative issues and player unhappiness at the franchise.
Straeuli admitted he was aware of problems that occurred during the team’s month-long tour of Europe – which include reports of “undernourished meals” and match jerseys going missing.
Straeuli told @rugby365com this week that he is not about to sweep any perceived administrative issues and player unhappiness under the carpet.
The most vociferous grievances are directed at the CEO, Straeuli, coach Ivan van Rooyen and Tracy van Ginkel, the manager of Contracts and Operations at the Lions Rugby Company.
It has become so bad that reports of another exodus of top players were likely to follow the 2022/2023 season, despite Straeuli’s recent statement that they have already ‘resigned’ most of their players.
Speaking to the media on Friday, the veteran prop said that the Lions squad had a ‘good’ meeting and a productive “come-together” .
“We set ourselves the goal to make this about the players and the team, going forward,” he told @rugby365com.
“It is a massive challenge,” he said about a Glasgow team that is fourth on the standings and on a six-match winning streak in the URC, their longest since a run of nine victories ended in May 2019.
“For us, it is about focusing on game-to-game and getting the best out of every game.
“Each one of us has our future in our own hands.
“We should not be bothered about anything else.
“We must just put out a good performance between the four white lines.”
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He added that Thursday’s ‘clear the air’ meeting produced an unambiguous message.
“What we said yesterday [Thursday] as players is that at the end of the day its up to us,” Dreyer added.
“We can’t worry or complain about anything else if we don’t bring the results.
“We will leave the other stuff to the correct channels and keep fighting on the field.
“The first 40 minutes last week showed that the guys are really playing for each other and putting everything out there.
“It is just the small margins to bring it together.
“That is what we as players are striving for and turning that into an 80-minute performance, making sure we get those points on the board.”
He said the players know they have nothing else to lose.
“There are proper channels to handle the off-field stuff,” the prop said.
“We have to put our best out on the field.
“Our future is in our own hands.
“If we stick together as a team we will grow closer and the results will start coming through.”
Apart from an injury-riddled stint with Gloucester, in which he made just seven appearances for the Premiership outfit, Dreyer played his entire first-class career in Johannesburg – almost 200 games for the Lions in various competitions.
The 32-year-old made all four of his Test appearances in 2017, starting at tighthead prop against France, Australia and New Zealand (twice).
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