Lions wary of 'flying too high'

Wed, 26 Feb 2014 13:39
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Lions coach Johan Ackermann has cautioned against too high expectations from his team, despite their unbeaten start to the season.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann has cautioned against too high expectations from his team, despite their unbeaten start upon their return to Super Rugby.

A one-point squeaker against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein was followed by a clinical 24-point destruction of the Stormers in front of almost 40,000 spectators at Ellis Park, prompting suggestions that the Lions could be play-off contenders.

However, Ackermann suggested that there could still be plenty of hiccups along the way in a very long season.

"We don't want to fly too high too soon," he said in interview with this website ahead of their Round Three trip to Loftus Versfeld for a trans-Jukskei derby with the Bulls.

"Every weekend there will be a new and very different challenge," he added.

While the Bulls have looked out of sorts and are coming off two consecutive defeats, the Lions mentor said they remain a quality outfit that can knock over any team.

"They are one of the teams that have performed consistently in our [the South African] conference in recent years," he said.

"They have played in semifinals and finals and won. They also still have a number of Springboks."

Ackermann pointed out that this will be the Bulls' first home game of the season and everybody knows how tough it is to go play at Loftus Versfeld.

"It has to be remembered that they played two of the top teams in the competition, the Sharks and Cheetahs, so I won't read too much into their performances.

"They remain a side that can knock any team over and they bring a very different dynamic.

"There is also the fact that they will have their backs to the wall and they are at, which home makes them even more dangerous.

"We will have to dig deep if we want to get a good result.

"That is why I say, it is so early in the season, we shouldn't think we have achieved anything."

The Lions mentor urged his charges to continue putting in the "hard yards", although he said they also have to stark looking after the players' bodies.

"We will address a lot of technical issues [this week]," he old this website, adding: "We will look after our scrums, as we where not entirely happy with our scrums [against the Stormers].

"We will also have another look at our attack.

"There were a few opportunities where we had scrums deep inside Stormers territory and our attack wasn't as effective as we wanted to be.

"You get so few opportunities in Super Rugby, so when you get those kind of [attacking] scrum you must know exactly what you want to do.

"You have to be accurate in your line-outs -there is definitely plenty of work to do."

By Jan de Koning

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Australia v New Zealand 34 | 54
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Blue Bulls v Golden Lions 54 | 22
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Sharks v Pumas 29 | 0
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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