Lions facing up to 'reality'
SUPER RUGBY INTERVIEW: Lions coach Swys de Bruin was cautiously optimistic ahead of his team’s departure on a three-match Australasian tour.
The Lions have a forbidding trip, where they will visit inhospitable places like Canberra (they face the Brumbies this coming Saturday), Hamilton (Chiefs, April 19) and Christchurch (Crusaders, April 26).
De Bruin, in a forthright interview with @rugby365com, said he was NOT going to put pressure on the guys to win.
“I want to put pressure on them [to make an] effort,” De Bruin said.
He repeated an earlier statement that there was ‘no effort’ in their 5-42 loss against the Sharks in Johannesburg last Friday.
The coach admitted that they are in a ‘rebuilding’ phase, given the extraordinary players they have lost in the last two years.
Players like Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Francois de Klerk, Jaco Kriel, Franco Mostert, Andries Ferreira, Armand van der Merwe, Corné Fourie, Jacques van Rooyen, Ruan Ackermann and Ruan Dreyer have either moved abroad or to other franchises.
Then there are Julian Redelinghuys and Warwick Tecklenburg, who retired
Other stalwarts like regular captain Warren Whiteley and prop Dylan Smith are injured.
That is a massive hole to fill.
“There are a number of players who are young and inexperienced in the set of forwards,” De Bruin said, adding: “I just want them to accept our values and what Lions rugby is all about.”
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De Bruin admitted there will be expectations to get wins on tour, but he is not going to add pressure on his players.
“I can’t change the perceptions, especially on social media,” the coach said, adding: “We can only do what we do.
“I know what the reality is.
“We have a team that has to gel and grow.
“I know it is a team that can surprise.
“It is not about winning or losing for us – it is all about the process.”
Even though the Brumbies have won just two of their seven games – and sit second from bottom on the standings, just above the Sunwolves – De Bruin said they should not be judged on their results this season.
“They have faced [mostly] New Zealand teams and that is not something we should ignore.
“New Zealand teams are the trend-setters in Super Rugby.
“Their results are not that important at this stage. I expected them to be very much like the Rebels, flat and direct.
“They play a lot of their No.9. They have a very experienced pack of forwards.”
De Bruin said of his own team’s lack of consistency, that it will come with time, as the team builds and gels.
“It comes with continuity [in selection] and we only started getting continuity in 2016 [from re-entry into Super Rugby in 2014].
“In our current situation, if the wrong guys get injured we have problems – because we have lost so many players.
“We still have to replace those players and the guys coming in are doing fine, but it will take time.
“I expect there to be a hiccup or two, but I just want to see effort.
“If I see effort and the guys stick to the game plan, I will be happy.
“I will look at defence, because defence is all about attitude.
“If they leave it all out on the field it is an entirely different matter.”
By Jan de Koning