JOHANNESBURG – The Bulls may have come unstuck against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires last week, but it is the 40-3 hiding they dished out to the Stormers in round one that is in the back of the minds of the Lions players and coaches ahead of the teams’ round three Super Rugby meeting at Ellis Park tomorrow.
And it is because of that performance almost two weeks ago – and the fact the Pretoria team are stacked with Test players – that Lions coach Swys de Bruin is treading carefully in the build-up to the match.
He didn’t even mention last week’s Bulls result in Argentina when discussing this week’s opponents yesterday – obviously knowing full well few teams go there and win – opting rather to talk about how they went against the Stormers, the side who beat the Lions at Newlands last weekend.
“Look what they did against the Stormers in the first game,” said De Bruin.
“They’ve got a great spine… from Schalk (Brits, at hooker), right through to Duane (Vermeulen), they’ve got two Springbok No 9s (Embrose Papier and Ivan van Zyl), they’ve got a Bok at flyhalf (Handre Pollard) and before he got injured last year they had the Bok fullback (Warrick Gelant).
“We’re under no illusions about what awaits us.
“The Bulls spent a lot of good money on a lot of good players… they’re a very good team, and we’re going to have to be very ready.”
And while the Bulls have intimated in the build-up to the match they know what game plan the Lions will produce tomorrow – including setting up lineouts and attacking the Bulls with the driving maul – De Bruin said it didn’t bother him. “They’ve got a good coach in Pote Human and will come up with their plans,” he said.
“We’ll stick to our DNA, what works for us and we’ll play our game. We’re going to do what we do, we’re not going to change anything.”
The Lions were dealt a big blow on the eve of the match when key lineout man and lock Marvin Orie was ruled out with a groin problem, joining his skipper, Warren Whiteley (chest), on the sidelines. Young Rhyno Herbst will come into the side in place of Orie, while Hacjivah Dayimani will wear the No 8 jersey.
De Bruin said it was an opportunity for the youngsters to put up their hands. “Marvin is a Springbok and he’s been great for us up to now. He’s been a work horse and done excellently in the lineouts so it is a setback, but there’s now a chance for young Herbst to put up his hand again,” De Bruin said.
“And Hacjivah, who’s a good runner, is back at No 8 where he will hunt with the two fox terriers (Kwagga Smith and Marnus Schoeman). They’ve got a big challenge on their hands, coming up against Duane and the two flanks, Liebenberg and Steenkamp.”
Meanwhile, De Bruin explained why he had picked hooker Malcolm Marx to lead the side in Whiteley’s absence.
“Malcolm and Elton (Jantjies, the vice-captain) are very popular members in the team, and while Malcolm is a quiet guy, he’s got the right aura. I’m not always going to make the popular decisions, but in this case it’s the right decision,” said De Bruin.
“Malcolm is a server, a leader, a team man and a top player. He’s humble, too. Elton will continue as the general and lead the team in that way.”
The Lions team is:
Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Elton Jantjies, Nic Groom, Hacjivah Dayimani, Marnus Schoeman, Kwagga Smith, Stephan Lewies, Rhyno Herbst, Carlu Sadie, Malcolm Marx (capt), Dylan Smith.
Replacements: Pieter Jansen, Frans van Wyk, Sti Sithole, Robert Kruger, Vincent Tshituka, Ross Cronje, Franco Naude, Courtnall Skosan