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Fri 30 Jan 2015 | 09:58

Lions to sidestep fixture minefield

Lions to sidestep fixture minefield
Fri 30 Jan 2015 | 09:58
Lions to sidestep fixture minefield
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The Lions have a Super Rugby draw from hell, which is why they have taken a low-key approach to their pre-season build-up.

Coach Johan Ackermann, speaking to rugby365 ahead of their two-match outing against the NWU-Pukke and Leopards in Potchefstroom on Saturday, said they were forced into a corner by their demanding start to the competition.

"It is out only pre-season match, so game time is vital for all the players," he said of the decision to take 54 players to Olen Park.

It will be their only chance to see how the players execute certain aspects of the game under pressure.

"We did work on a few aspects in pre-season, so we would like to see what works well and what not," the coach said, adding that they would like to have played more, but as a result of their fixtures can't afford to.

The Lions will nine consecutive matches before their first bye.

It starts in Johannesburg on February 13, when they host the Hurricanes, then face the Sharks away, Stormers at home, then head off on an arduous Australasian tour where they will face the Blues, Crusaders, Rebels and Reds, before returning to South Africa for games against the Bulls (at home) and the Sharks.

Lions to sidestep fixture minefieldLions to sidestep fixture minefield

Only then will they have a bye.

"If you add any more pre-season matches you could end up with 12 or 13 games before there is a break," Ackermann told rugby365.

"We have to look at continuity and contact," he said of the outing in Potchefstroom.

"This is the only opportunity where we can test the players in the pressure of a match situation."

He said that while they won't show everything, they would like to see where they are at with certain aspects of their game.

"We are in the grey [uncertain] in terms of our fitness, about ball continuity and the players haven't had any real contact for months.

"If we can tick those boxes we can fine-tune and put more aspects of our game in place.

"We hope to give some of the guys 60 to 70 minutes of game time and hopefully have no injuries.

"They key aspects we will look at on Saturday will be defence and continuity with ball in hand."

Teams:

Lions v NWU-Pukke:

Lions to sidestep fixture minefieldLions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 Nicolaas Hanekom, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Derrick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Lourens Erasmus, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.

Replacements – from: Mark Pretorius, Corne Fourie, Pieter Scholtz, Robert Kruger, Ruan Ackermann, Thabo Mabuza, Victor Sekekete, Francois de Klerk, Shaun Reynolds, Harold Vorster, Gerdus van der Walt, Cameron Rooi.

Lions to sidestep fixture minefieldNWU-Pukke: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Dalen Goliath, 13 Cooper Smit, 12 Johan Deysel, 11 Dean Stokes, 10 Johnny Welthagen, 9 Dillon Smith, 8 Jeandré Rudolph (captain), 7 Loftus Morrison, 6 Rhyk Welgemoed, 5 Danie Jordaan, 4 Ruan Venter, 3 Stephanus Bezuidenhout, 2 Jacques Vermaak, 1 Joe Smith.

Replacements – from: Wian Fourie, Mogau Mabokela, Cayle Denner, Walt Steenkamp, PJ Uys, Molotsi Bouwer, Marno Redelinghuys, Jaco Buys, Chriswill September, Rowayne Beukman, Marnus Tack, Arthur Festus, Ernst Haarhoff, Myburgh Briers.

Date: Saturday, January 31

Venue: Olen Park, Potchefstroom

Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00 GMT)

Referees: Oregopotse Rametsi, Archie Sehlako

Lions XV v Leopards:

Lions to sidestep fixture minefieldLions XV: 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Mark Richards, 13 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Luan Jacobs, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Stephan de Wit, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Schalk van Heerden, 3 Julian Redelinghuys (captain), 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.

Replacements – from: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Clinton Theron, 18 Dylan Smith, 19 Le Roux Roets, 20 JP du Preez, 21 Cyle Brink, 22 Fabian Booysen, 23 Ricky Schroeder, 24 Kobus de Kock, 25 Alwyn Hollenbach, 26 Jacques Nel, 27 Damian Engledou.

Lions to sidestep fixture minefieldLeopards: 15 Myburgh Briers, 14 Jaco Hayward, 13 Sergio Torrens, 12 Adri Jacobs, 11 Elof Scheepers, 10 Kobus du Plessis, 9 Malherbe Swart, 8 Morné Hanekom, 7 Henro-Pierre Swart, 6 Juan Language, 5 Francois Robertse, 4 Andrich Nortjé, 3 Stephanus Bezuidenhout, 2 Wilmar Arnoldi, 1 Devon Marthinus.

Replacements: TBC

Date: Saturday, January 31

Venue: Olen Park, Potchefstroom

Kick-off: 16.40 (14.40 GMT)

Referee: Jaco Pretorius

By Jan de Koning

@King365ed

@rugby365com

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Lions to sidestep fixture minefield | Rugby365