Coach Jimmy Stonehouse’s hard-nosed stance, as his charges face South Western Districts in the first semifinal in Nelspruit this afternoon, is hardly about bragging rights.
“I want us to win this tournament because it’s about validation,” said the mentor yesterday.
“When you prepare players mentally for the rigours of the top-flight, you need to give them the utmost confirmation that they’ll be successful there. If we win the first division, we’re unequivocally the best candidates for promotion. Topping the log but not being able to cope with the finals would be hollow.”
However, the Pumas shouldn’t be modest about their chances – they’ve won all 14 of their games in this campaign.
What’s the secret to that ruthlessness?
“Simple provincial pride,” noted Stonehouse.
“We’ve always been very meticulous in our playing aims and conditioning but more than anything, our move to Nelspruit has been massive. There’s great support and the players have responded to that.”
The EP Kings host the Leopards today.