Healthy Lions open door for 'all-comers'

Fri, 03 Feb 2017 11:06
Large swys de bruin   ross cronje 800

PRE-SEASON SPOTLIGHT: The Lions may have one of the most settled teams, including a rash of Springboks, but that does not guarantee any player a spot in the squad.

While you would expect their Boks - Malcolm Marx, Jaco Kriel, Warren Whiteley (also the captain), Francois de Klerk, Elton Jantjies, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Lionel Mapoe and Ruan Combrinck - to be regular starts, the door is open for players to unseat the big names.

Lions assistant coach Swys de Bruin, speaking to rugby365 ahead of their second pre-season outing, said it is part of the team culture that those who want it most get selected.

"Ackers [head coach Johan Ackermann] keeps telling the players, that jersey is there for anybody who wants to put his hand up," De Bruin said - ahead of Saturday's encounter with a Barbarians XV at the Wits Stadium in Johannesburg.

"Examples from last year include Makou [lock Lourens Erasmus], [loose forward] Cyle Brink and [midfielder] Jacques Nel - all players who forced their way into the squad.

"It is a very healthy situation to be in when nobody owns the jersey.

"The player who desires it the most will be selected."

De Bruin also said last week's loss to the Bulls have many positives, despite a lopsided result in favour of the team from Pretoria.

"Given that the bulk of our Under-21 team and young players went to Harare, the biggest positive is that the depth at the union is not too bad," the assistant coach told rugby365.

"Those youngsters had a chance to measure themselves against seasoned players and I don't think they did too badly.

"Keep in mind that our Under-19 team and Under-21 team both won the national provincial competition last year, so our depth is healthy."

He added that part of their preparation for Super Rugby was that they would play a group of very young players in Zimbabwe and play another group of players against the BaaBaas XV on Saturday.

A third group, the remaining players, will be in action against the Stormers at Newlands next weekend.

"After that we will have a good picture of our wider squad," De Bruin said.

Saturday's encounter at the Wits Stadium promises to be a try-feast, as the Lions are determined to continue with the expansive game they have played for the last four years.

And the opposition, in true Barbarians tradition, have also promised to be "entertaining".

By Jan de Koning
@king365ed
@rugby365com

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 25 May 2018
Crusaders v Hurricanes 07h35 Christchurch
Rebels v Sunwolves 09h45 Melbourne
Jaguares v Sharks 19h40 Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Sat, 26 May 2018
Chiefs v Waratahs 07h35 Hamilton
Reds v Highlanders 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Bulls v Brumbies 13h05 Loftus Versfeld
Exeter Chiefs v Saracens 14h00 London
Stormers v Lions 15h15 Newlands
Leinster v Scarlets 17h00 Dublin
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 11 6 1 4 31
Rebels 11 5 0 6 25
Reds 11 4 0 7 18
Brumbies 11 3 0 8 16
Sunwolves 11 0 9 10
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 12 10 0 2 46
Hurricanes 11 10 0 1 45
Highlanders 11 7 0 4 32
Chiefs 11 7 0 4 32
Blues 12 3 0 9 17
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 13 7 0 6 36
Jaguares 12 7 0 5 29
Sharks 12 5 1 6 28
Bulls 12 5 0 7 24
Stormers 13 5 0 8 23