Lion Sithole is desperate to run with the big dogs

The Emirates Lions player Sti Sithole speaks to the media at Johannesburg Stadium on February 26 2019.
The Emirates Lions player Sti Sithole speaks to the media at Johannesburg Stadium on February 26 2019.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi

He’s tugging at the leash. But then‚ Sti Sithole has earned the right to be a little impatient.

After a somewhat itinerant existence the loosehead prop might get some extended game time in Super Rugby at the Lions where he has served his dues in the Currie Cup team.

“I’m frothing for them. We love scrumming as props so I’m very psyched about that‚” said the Durban born prop.

Sithole‚ played his first Super Rugby match of the season in a losing cause against the Stormers at Newlands last weekend.

His warm‚ broad smile may leave you thinking he’s more staffie than pitbull by way of scrummaging grunt‚ but Sithole is desperate to run with the big dogs.

“All of them‚ whoever comes my way‚” said Sithole when asked if there is a player he is keen to measure himself against this season.

He’s had to learn to bide his time.

The 25-year-old is not a complete newbie to Super Rugby. In his youth he was at the Sharks and Western Province before taking his first tentative steps in Super Rugby‚ representing the Stormers in three matches in 2014 and 2015.

It was‚ however‚ his stint at the Southern Kings where he played 10 matches in 2016 that helped secure his ticket to the Lions.

Sithole‚ who draws inspiration from Beast Mtawarira and former Los Pumas strongman Marcos Ayerza‚ says he is grateful for that experience.

“It was very important. I can’t even imagine where I would be if I didn’t go there. I grew so much as a player on and off the field. That’s why I’m here‚” he said.

Life at the Lions is a little different.

They place a high premium on fitness with their clear objective in home matches at their high altitude base to exact a lung busting toll on their opposition.

“It’s a challenge‚” Sithole said with another smile.

“There is definitely a difference in intensity‚ especially at the Lions where you struggle at first because you are forced to do it at training. We train at high intensity trying to simulate the play in Super Rugby.

“I feel I’m definitely improving. Scrumming fitness was a thing for me. Coming up here has definitely worked for me. I’m constantly improving. In the scrum you are always learning.”

He did his part and feels he got noticed in pre-season training. His cause was of course aided by the fact that that Lions front row reserves have dwindled in the last season or so.

“It is nice after a tough pre-season‚ to get rewarded again. I’m very glad I’m getting the opportunity.

"Obviously guys like Jacques van Rooyen and Ruan Dreyer have left so there were spots open. It looks like I took it pre-season so I’m happy.”

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