Lions expect frosty reception from the Australian 'Bulls'

Wed, 10 May 2017 12:12

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Lions coach Johan Ackermann gas described the Brumbies as Australia's version of the Bulls. Jan de Koning reports.

Ackermann, speaking ahead of their Round 12 encounter, said the Brumbies will present them with their toughest challenge on their three-match tour - when the sides go head-to-head in Canberra on Friday.

While the Lions are determined to maintain their expansive mantra, they will have to make some adjustments to account for the Brumbies' smothering tactics.

"We would always like to be known as a team with an expansive gameplan," Ackermann said this week, adding: "It is one of the goals the players set for themselves.

"We do not like to deviate from that, but some teams don't allow for much play and the Brumbies are one of those.

"They smother you [put pressure on you], work hard at the breakdowns, they are good at competing in the line-outs and their defence is very good."

Ackermann did not hide the fact that his team will have to "make some adjustments" on Friday.

"It is an evening game, it will be cold and the surface will be slippery because of the cold and dew," the Lions coach said.

"I call them the Bulls of Australia. They are big and physical and they 'smother' you.

"We expect them to attack our line-outs and breakdowns, in an attempt to disrupt our rhythm."

Despite the Lions' game-to-game approach, the Brumbies present the Lions' biggest challenge on the tour.

"We knew the Brumbies, on paper, would pose the biggest threat, but we couldn't afford to get ahead of ourselves and worry about the Brumbies ahead of the games against the Force and Rebels.

"Even with the shorter week [from a Saturday fame to a Friday match], our routine hasn't changed.

"Yes, the weather will be a challenge - as they are expecting a very cold evening on Friday.

"The Brumbies are different from other Australian teams and we have to adjust - we will have to adjust to the weather, we have to adjust to the pressure they will create.

"There won't be major changes to our gameplan, but we have to deal with the physical confrontation and adjust to what they bring to the game. They will try to stop our game and then we have to adjust."

Ackermann admitted they have made some 'minor tweaks' to their game plan - with a bit more tactical kicking.

"Teams have analysed us a lot since last year," he said, adding: "Obviously they attempt to disrupt as and put pressure on us in different areas.

"The most important question is: 'Where is the pressure coming from?'

"Sometimes pressure can be relieved by changing direction, sometimes it can be relieved through good tactical kicking and sometimes it is just hard work.

"Decision-making is where we will get challenged on Friday.

"The Brumbies are renowned for the pressure they create."

By Jan de Koning
@king365ed
@rugby365com

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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 15 6 0 9 34
Force 15 6 0 9 26
Reds 15 4 0 11 21
Waratahs 15 4 0 11 19
Rebels 15 1 1 13 9
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 15 14 0 1 63
Hurricanes 15 12 0 3 58
Chiefs 15 12 1 2 57
Highlanders 15 11 0 4 51
Blues 15 7 1 7 37
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 15 10 0 5 43
Cheetahs 15 4 0 11 21
Bulls 15 4 0 11 20
Sunwolves 15 2 0 13 12
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 15 14 0 1 65
Sharks 15 9 1 5 42
Jaguares 15 7 0 8 33
Kings 15 6 0 9 28