Lions in a tight spot

Wed, 05 Feb 2014 20:45
Large lions training general Large johan ackermann points Large willie du plessis lions

The Lions will face a stern examination of their Super Rugby pedigree when they face the Sharks in Johannesburg on Friday.

The Lions will face a stern examination of their Super Rugby pedigree when they face the Sharks in Johannesburg on Friday.

And the biggest test will be in the scrums, where they will come up against the all-Springbok front row of Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis, as well as Tendai Mtawarira.

Given his team's set-piece problems in their 19-12 pre-season win over the Southern Kings last week, coach Johan Ackermann admitted they will have to "work hard" ahead of facing a much more intimidating adversary.

While the Lions' starting front row - Julian Redelinghuys, Willie Wepener and Schalk van der Merwe - held their own against the Kings, it was once the back-up arrived on the field in the second half that things went pear-shaped for the Lions.

"I am concerned, as I expected more," Ackermann said of his front row depth.

"They are good players and what makes them good players is the fact that they are good ball carriers - Jacques [van Rooyen] when he played for us and Corne [Fourie] for the Pumas last year.

"It has to be remembered that Jacques van Rooyen played his first game for us at tighthead [prop].

"We are putting him on trial there. We do have some good loosehead props and want to see if he can have the same impact at tighthead for us.

"However, it does start in the scrums and we can't neglect the scrums - we will work hard on that aspect."

Ackermann said that Ruan Dreyer is still coming back from injury and is a very good tighthead that will help resolve the issue.

"I do expect the guys who come on to be of the same standard, so that is something we will pay attention to."

Kings stand-in coach Robbie Kempson, who played in 37 Tests for the Springboks from 1998 to 2003, admitted the Lions are in a similar pickle to what the Kings found themselves in last year.

"I can't speak for Ackers [Johan Ackermann], but he does know that he doesn't have dept in certain positions." Kempson said.

The former Bok prop felt that it is not a problem of the Lions mentor's making.

"He is in the same predicament the Kings were in last year," Kempson said, adding: "He can't get the top rugby players in the country, [because] he doesn't have a headline sponsor.

"I feel very sorry for him.

"He should be given the best opportunity to perform at a top level [and] he is not being given that opportunity, because certain [provincial] presidents decided not to vote for something that is not a rugby decision.

"I feel sorry for him in that respect, he doesn't have the strength in dept that the Sharks, Stormers, Cheetahs and Bulls have.

"Unfortunately he is not going to get it this season.

"That is why he took off players earlier than he should have - he can't afford to have injury to his top players."

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Thu, 26 May 2016
Canada v Italy 16h00 Toronto
Fri, 27 May 2016
Hurricanes v Highlanders 07h35 Wellington
Waratahs v Chiefs 09h40 Sydney
Boland v Eagles 13h00 Wellington
Free State Cheetahs v Pumas 13h00 Bloemfontein
Border v Falcons 17h00 East London
Kings v Jaguares 17h00 Ascoli Piceno
Sat, 28 May 2016
Blues v Crusaders 07h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Sunwolves 09h40 Canberra
Western Province v Griquas 10h15 Newlands
Blue Bulls v Leopards 12h15 Loftus Versfeld
Golden Lions v EP Kings 13h00 Johannesburg
Stormers v Cheetahs 13h00 DHL Newlands
Namibia v Griffons 13h00 Windhoek
Saracens v Exeter Chiefs 14h00 London
Bulls v Lions 15h05 Loftus Versfeld
Leinster v Connacht 16h30 Edinburgh
Sun, 29 May 2016
Rebels v Force 06h05 Melbourne
England v Wales 14h00 London
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 11 6 0 5 30
Brumbies 11 7 0 4 29
Rebels 10 5 0 5 23
Reds 13 3 1 9 16
Force 11 2 0 9 11
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Chiefs 11 9 0 2 42
Crusaders 11 9 0 2 41
Highlanders 11 8 0 3 37
Hurricanes 11 7 0 4 36
Blues 11 6 1 4 29
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Bulls 11 7 1 3 32
Stormers 11 6 1 4 32
Cheetahs 11 3 0 8 16
Sunwolves 11 1 1 9 9
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 11 8 0 3 37
Sharks 12 7 1 4 35
Jaguares 11 2 0 9 13
Kings 11 1 0 10 4