Whiteley: Lions 'changed' after honest conversations
LISTEN as injured Springbok and now Lions coach Warren Whiteley talks about his team’s return to play.
Whiteley, 32, revealed on the Lions’ podcast show that the team used the COVID-19-enforced lockdown as a time for reflection.
While the team is “very excited” about returning to action later this month – when they face the Springbok-laden Stormers in the SuperFan Saturday showdown at Loftus Versfeld on September 26.
The Lions have hit the reset button since their last outing in a disastrous Super Rugby campaign – which ended with just one win in six starts and the Lions well outside the top 10 places.
Whiteley promised a ‘very different’ Lions outfit from the one that struggled in the opening seven weeks of Super Rugby.
He said they are satisfied with where the squad is at the moment.
“We have some senior guys back,” he told the Lions’ podcast show, adding: “Having guys like [Springboks Jaco Kriel and Ruan Dryer back is phenomenal.”
They also made some significant signings, with former Bulls Jaco Visagie and Burger Odendaal having crossed the Jukskei.
“We are excited to play and just to get out there is going to be amazing, we just can’t wait.”
The Lions are renowned for their all-out attacking style, but defence let them down – conceding 27 tries in just six matches.
“We have changed quite a bit,” Whiteley said, adding: “We had a hard look at ourselves as coaches and had some tough and honest conversations.
“We changed quite a bit and we are really happy with where we are at the moment.
“We are very, very excited.
“It has been a long haul, in challenging circumstances,” he said of the COVID-19-enforced lay-off, adding: “It was great to see how resilient the players were.
“I have a lot of respect for the guys.”
We had a sit down with @WarrenWhiteley this week and asked the question everyone has been asking.
— Emirates Lions (@LionsRugbyCo) September 18, 2020
Whitely reiterated an earlier statement that there is still a faint hope that he might resume his playing career, but admitted he has a “big decision” to make soon.
“It is a difficult decision to make,” he said of the possible call to finally retire as a result of a knee injury that has kept him on the sidelines for over a year now.
“What I am doing now [coaching at the Lions] I love.
“It helps me psychologically and my passion for the Lions and the players is huge.”
To listen to the entire podcast, CLICK HERE!
— Emirates Lions (@LionsRugbyCo) September 14, 2020