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

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 28 April 2017
Highlanders v Stormers 07h35 Dunedin
Cardiff Blues v Zebre 18h05 Cardiff
Edinburgh v Dragons 18h35 Myreside
Leinster v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 RDS Arena
Newcastle Falcons v Worcester Warriors 19h00 Kingston Park
Sat, 29 April 2017
Chiefs v Sunwolves 07h35 Hamilton
Reds v Waratahs 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Force v Lions 11h55 Perth
Ospreys v Ulster 14h00 Liberty Stadium
Bath v Gloucester 14h00 Recreation Ground
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Saracens v Bristol 14h00 Allianz Park
Harlequins v Wasps 14h00 Twickenham Stoop
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks 14h00 Welford Road
Cheetahs v Crusaders 15h15 Bloemfontein
Treviso v Munster 17h05 Stadio Monigo
Kings v Rebels 17h30 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Connacht v Scarlets 18h35 Sportsground
Jaguares v Sharks 19h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 30 April 2017
Brumbies v Blues 06h05 Canberra
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 23 April 2017
Clermont Auvergne v Leinster 27 | 22
Sat, 22 April 2017
Sharks v Rebels 9 | 9
Bulls v Cheetahs 20 | 14
Munster v Saracens 10 | 26
Force v Chiefs 7 | 16
Crusaders v Stormers 57 | 24
Highlanders v Sunwolves 40 | 15
Fri, 21 April 2017
Lions v Jaguares 24 | 21
Waratahs v Kings 24 | 26
Hurricanes v Brumbies 56 | 21
Mon, 17 April 2017
UP-Tuks v Maties 28 | 21
Sun, 16 April 2017
Bristol v Wasps 21 | 36
Northampton Saints v Saracens 25 | 27
Sat, 15 April 2017
Connacht v Leinster 24 | 37
Treviso v Edinburgh 21 | 6
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 8 3 0 5 17
Reds 8 2 0 6 10
Force 7 2 0 5 9
Waratahs 8 2 0 6 9
Rebels 7 1 1 5 7
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 8 8 0 0 36
Hurricanes 8 7 0 1 33
Chiefs 8 7 0 1 33
Highlanders 8 5 0 3 23
Blues 8 3 0 5 17
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 8 6 0 2 26
Bulls 8 3 0 5 14
Cheetahs 8 2 0 6 10
Sunwolves 8 1 0 7 5
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 8 7 0 1 32
Sharks 8 5 1 2 24
Jaguares 8 4 0 4 20
Kings 8 2 0 6 10