The Lions may be the South African Super rugby side least disrupted by the Tri-Nations at the start of the Currie Cup season but coach John Mitchell believes that his side is still in the process of developing.
The Lions mentor insisted that there is still plenty of talent in the Currie Cup and expects a fiercely fought competition despite so many quality players being ruled out due to their involvement with the Springboks.
He commented: "I think it is a misconception about the Springbok situation. There will still be Springboks and former Springboks in the teams we face, and there will be future Springboks."
On Friday, the Lions start their campaign at home against the Pumas in Johannesburg and Mitchell will consider anything less than a place in the knock-out stages a complete failure, but he insists that his team are still on a learning curve.
He said: "We need to get on with the things that are needed to become a better rugby team. We still have a long way to go. We are physically developing, we are mentally developing and the majority of our critical mass have now experienced a Currie Cup and a Super Rugby campaign.
"It is now a matter of them grabbing even more belief in themselves and also in their team," he added.
A possible stumbling block could, however, lie in the union's boardroom politics which has diverted attention away from the progress of the team.
The Lions and their billionaire investors, Guma TAC, recently parted ways after the coaching staff's plight for uniformity at management level fell on deaf ears.
Mitchell is adamant that his charges are only concerned with continued improvement on the field and that the main focus is being able to turn continuity in team selection into consistency and results on the field.
His attitude towards the introduction of young players has not changed and if the union's management structure gets its house in order, there is no reason why he should not succeed in producing a number of Springboks.
Looking ahead to his second season at the helm, Mitchell admitted he too will have more confidence this time around.
"I love this competition and I guess last year, when I went into it, I wasn't sure whether my future was going to be here or whether I was just filling in for Dick (Muir) in the short term," he said.
Mitchell has in the meanwhile made it clear he will stay with the team for the long run. He also spoke with great excitement about the work former Bulls coach Nico Serfontein was doing, establishing a well organised junior structure.
"It is important that we look at developing from within and the Currie Cup will provide us with a chance to introduce new players at a new level of rugby. Nico is doing a great job and those are all positive signs we need looking ahead," he said.
The Lions have lost only two players - flyhalves Butch James and Elton Jantjies - to the Springbok squad which means Burton Francis will most likely wear the No.10 jersey in their opener.
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.