Lions' biggest problem is 'between the ears'
REACTION: The Golden Lions may be going through a bad run, but coach Zacharia de Bruin is backing his young 'cubs' to come good in the Currie Cup.
Speaking after their 3-39 loss to Western Province at the weekend, their fourth defeat in five matches, De Bruin admitted that the team's character is being tested.
It is not going to get any easier.
With their confidence at a low ebb, they next meet the table-topping Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Add in a calf injury to prop Jacques van Rooyen and De Bruin's task is becoming a real challenge.
However, the mentor affectionately known as Swys, is adamant that it is the mental aspects of their game that needs most attention.
He added that his team is in a very unique situation, where they had to rest some of their senior players after the Super Rugby Final and some of them should still be resting, having done an immense amount of work.
"I will not come down hard on any individuals," De Bruin said, adding: "Our character is being tested and we have some very young players coming through.
"It is very tough to be a successful Super Rugby and Currie Cup team."
He spoke of the psychological challenge, saying it is "very much between the ears" at the moment.
"We are being tested, having had a big run with lots of good victories," De Bruin said.
"However, it is healthy [to be tested like this], It is not nice, but we have to get through these growing pains.
"We went through the same process in the Currie Cup last year."
Apart from having eight players with the Springboks, some players are also playing in Japan - like Ruan Combrinck, Lionel Mapoe and Lourens Erasmus.
"These are the guys, they must play," he said of the squad that featured in the loss at Newlands, adding that they are digging into their junior ranks.
"Players like Jack Hart, Siya [Masuku] and Hacjivah [Dayimani], who are all still just 19-year-olds - it is great exposure for them.
"I can be 'old school' and come down on them like a ton of bricks, but that won't bring me the results.
"I will have to, step-by-step, get their confidence back.
"The mistakes they made suggest to me there is no confidence.
"You just need one or two things to happen."
The coach said he will back his players and emphasised it is a 'new bunch' of young players.
"We also mustn't forget how well Province did play, especially on the turnover.
"I don't think too many sides would have beaten them in this match with their turnover attack.
"We won't lie down, it is not in our character."
By Jan de Koning, at Newlands