JOHANNESBURG – It is easy to see that Vincent Tshituka of the Lions loves playing rugby, loves getting stuck in at the breakdown, loves making the big hits, taking the ball into contact and making a line-break, and loves helping his team to victory … he also loves his brother, and is very, very proud of his younger sibling.
Emmanuel Tshituka has been playing off the bench for the Lions alongside his brother, making his competitive debut for the senior side in the Rainbow Cup South Africa against the Bulls in Round 1. And since then both brothers have slowly begun turning heads with their performances, much to the glee of Vincent.
“It's a dream come true,” said Vincent with regards to playing alongside Emmaneul.
“We are two age groups apart, so we never really had the luxury of being able to play together and what a better time than at professional level. Every minute I get with him, I cherish it.
“I love it.
“I love seeing him play, it picks me up and motivates me even more and it does the same for him as well. I think we feed off each other's energy.”
Emmanuel, who can play as a loose-forward and at lock, showed off a minute quantum of his strength, talent and skill last week in the loss to the Stormers when he broke through their defensive lines, took on a gaggle of the opposition, and came within inches of scoring a try. It was a great run that ended in a desperately close fumble on the whitewash.
But, as all good, older brothers should do, Vincent had a word of advice after the mistake, and remained immensely proud of the 20-year-old's efforts.
“As much as it was unlucky, I was more proud,” Vincent revealed.
“He made a flippen excellent break, great carry, he took on a lot of guys, it took a lot of men to bring him down, and he was unlucky more than anything else. I know, for him, it was really hard to get over that because if he scores there, we are 14 points ahead and it is a completely different game. But, I was more proud. I love seeing him make those carries and seeing those great moments. I told him to keep his head up, and keep going, because it was excellent work that he did.”
On Saturday the winless Lions face an undefeated Bulls outfit at Emirates Airline Park (kick-off 3.3pm), with both brothers once again in the matchday squad – Vincent starting at flank, and Emmanuel once again on the bench as cover for the second-row and loosies. Vincent is cognisant of the huge task that awaits the Joburgers, but believes the Lions can pull off an upset.
“We have to take it back to basics, pretty much,” he argued.
“We have a core group of senior players and we are battling to make good decisions on and off the field. Besides that, more than anything, we've had a couple of tough losses and I think we are missing that 10 percent in a little bit of concentration, a little bit more assertiveness, a little more decisiveness, and that is what is going to get us over the line this weekend.
“We have worked big time on our defence and our management of that,” he continued. “I have no doubt that physically, the boys are going to pitch … More than anything we just have to stick to our systems and the structures that we have worked so hard on this week on the weekend, we should be fine defensively as well.”
Lions Starting XV: EW Viljoen; Rabz Maxwane, Wandisile Simelane, Burger Odendaal (capt), Courtnall Skosan; Jordan Hendrikse, André Warner; Len Massyn, Vincent Tshituka, MJ Pelser, Reinhard Nothnagel, Ruben Schoeman, Carlu Sadie, Jaco Visagie, Sti Sithole; Replacements: PJ Botha, Ruan Dreyer, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Willem Alberts, Emmanuel Tshituka, Morné van den Berg, Fred Zeilinga, Manuel Rass