LISTEN: New generation Lions head into the future
LISTEN: New generation Lions head into the futureSHARE
One round into the 2018 Super Rugby season and it is clear the beast of Johannesburg's concrete jungle is not just alive and well, the system is already bringing through a new generation of potential stars.
It is not just in the players' ranks that new talent is emerging, like young Aphiwe Dyantyi, but – more significantly – among the coaching staff.
Following their hard-earned, scrappy 26-19 win over the Sharks at the weekend, new Lions head coach Zacharia de Bruin spoke of the virtues of new forwards coach Philip Lemmer.
The line-outs may have been wonky – the Lions winning only 15 of their 19 throws (74 percent) – but their scrums were as dominant as ever.
The Sharks managed to win back only four of the 10 scrums in which they had the feed – the string of penalties greatly helping the Lions to get momentum in the game.
Lemmer, like defence coach Joey Mongalo, in his first Super Rugby season, has a long way to go.
But the potential is there.
"I think it is time to focus on the future," De Bruin said in the post-match media briefing – when the issue of the departures of Ackermann and Ferreira was raised yet again.
"Philip Lemmer is a young coach that has a great future," the head coach said, adding: "Akkers [Johan Ackermann] laid a great foundation.
"We have to give Philip, as a forwards coach, a full chance that he can grow and become great … like Akkers."
He said a lot of planning was done in the week, especially after they heard the Sharks were travelling to Johannesburg with a plan to attack the Lions' scrum.
He also praised the rookies on his playing roster.
"Aphiwe [Dyantyi] is a guy to watch," De Bruin said, adding: "He is the future.
"The same with the rest of the youngsters, they look good."
De Bruin spoke of being 'pleased and relieved' after his team hung on in the face of a series if fierce raids by the Sharks late in the game – which included crucial turnovers by Super Rugby rookies Marnus Schoeman and Hacjivah Dayimani.
"We did go into the game a bit underdone.
"We asked for character and the character came through.
"One thing about this team, when the chips are down, they can fight. I love the brotherhood and they showed they are brothers – when you are in trouble, that's when you show you are a brother."
Lions captain Warren Whiteley shared the same sentiments as his coach in praising his team for their defensive effort towards the end of the game.
However, he added that there is still a lot for the Lions to work on.
"I am proud of the guys, especially at the end there," Whiteley said.
"It showed great character just to keep them out, but we know there is still a lot of hard work," added Whiteley.
By Josh Isaacson