New-look Lions go on trial

Tue, 21 Jan 2014 08:56
Large johan ackermann media2 Large lionel mapoe interview 630 Large johan ackermann media

The Lions, more so than any other team this year, will be keen to trial their systems in Super Rugby's pre-season build-up. Jan de Koning reports.

The Lions, more so than any other team this year, will be keen to trial their systems in Super Rugby's pre-season build-up.

Having had to be content with watching from the sidelines and playing a few 'friendlies', while the Southern Kings enjoyed a season of Super Rugby, the Lions have won back their right to be among the elite of the game in the Southern Hemisphere.

However, the departure of a host of seasoned players and a lack of meaningful competition - other than the Currie Cup competition - means there is an air of uncertainty surrounding the Lions' readiness ahead of their comeback.

The Lions mark their return to Super Rugby by taking on the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday, February 15.

But before that they have three pre-season games planned - against the Leopards at Ellis Park on January 24, the Southern/Eastern Province Kings at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on February 1 and the Sharks at Ellis Park Stadium on February 7.

And the first of those, this Friday, will be the first indication for coach Johan Ackermann where his team stands.

"It is a run-out for us to ensure the guys get some contact," Ackermann told this website, adding: "Then we want to see where we stand in terms of our fitness. We want to see how our structures shape up.

"We have worked hard on it in training, but we've not had an opportunity to try it out under pressure in a match situation."

He said there are certain aspects of their game they must try out under pressure and see how it works.

"We have new combinations and the guys haven't had a game together. We are looking forward to see how they react under that [match] kind of pressure."

The coach said the teams for Friday - they will take on the Leopards with two sides - are mixed up a bit.

"However, there are some [young] guys we want to see, who are training with the senior Super Rugby group.

"Then there is a group of senior players who are sitting out this week and will only feature in the second pre-season outing."

On the injury front things have also improved for the Lions.

Deon van Rensburg (leg) and Lionel Mapoe (shoulder) have been taking part in full training with the team and will both feature this weekend.

Ruan Combrink (ankle) started training again this week, and he should be able to play next week.

Willie du Plessis is also back from his injury.

"We only have a handful of guys who are not taking part in full team training," Ackermann told this website.

"The big names who are not ready yet are Anthony Volmink [shoulder], Ruan Dreyer [shoulder] and Elton Jantjies [shoulder]," he said, adding: "They are still of some concern to us.

"Hopefully the injuries stay away and then we can get some momentum on the playing field."

By Jan de Koning

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 01 July 2016
Chiefs v Crusaders 07h35 Suva
Brumbies v Reds 09h40 Canberra
EP Kings v Griquas 16h00 Port Elizabeth
Blue Bulls v Boland 17h00 Loftus Versfeld
Sat, 02 July 2016
Sunwolves v Waratahs 05h15 Tokyo
Hurricanes v Blues 07h35 Wellington
Rebels v Stormers 09h40 Melbourne
Free State Cheetahs v Falcons 10h05 Bloemfontein
Golden Lions v Griffons 12h05 Johannesburg
Western Province v Eagles 13h00 Newlands
Namibia v Border 13h00 Windhoek
Cheetahs v Force 13h00 Bloemfontein
Sharks v Leopards 15h00 Durban
Kings v Highlanders 15h05 Port Elizabeth
Lions v Sharks 17h10 Johannesburg
Jaguares v Bulls 21h40 Buenos Aires
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 12 8 0 4 34
Waratahs 12 7 0 5 34
Rebels 12 6 0 6 27
Reds 12 3 1 8 16
Force 12 2 0 10 12
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 12 10 0 2 45
Chiefs 12 9 0 3 42
Hurricanes 12 8 0 4 40
Highlanders 12 8 0 4 38
Blues 12 6 1 5 30
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 12 7 1 4 36
Bulls 12 7 1 4 32
Cheetahs 12 3 0 9 17
Sunwolves 12 1 1 10 9
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 12 9 0 3 42
Sharks 12 7 1 4 35
Jaguares 12 2 0 10 14
Kings 12 2 0 10 9