Lionel Mapoe speaks about the great Bulls challenge

FILE PICTURE: Lionel Mapoe of the Lions during the Lions training session. Picture: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

FILE PICTURE: Lionel Mapoe of the Lions during the Lions training session. Picture: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Lions centre and vice-captain Lionel Mapoe has been the calming influence in his team’s backline on their recent away leg – but on Saturday evening the challenge against the Bulls will be even greater, he predicted this week.

What do you expect from the Bulls?

“They are going to be much more physical, and our forwards will have to man up against the big pack of the Bulls. They also have a good kicking game, so we have to managed that as well; so we just have to go in there and be more focused, especially in a SA derby, and they will also be going out to prove a point, so we just have to believe in our structures and just do our job. They always have a few Boks, and we’ll have to be on the best alert against a very good Bulls side.”

The Lions have not played that great attacking rugby they have been known for on the recent tour, but have they played a more balanced game?

“In the beginning of the season we played the ball often wide, but for us it’s finding the right mix between when we are going to run and when we are going to kick. We definitely won’t be doing silly things and focus on the game plan we have been training the entire week.”

Even with all the defence you have been doing, the discipline has remained intact?

“Discipline has been important, and we’ve seen how disruptive it has been to lose a player with a card. So we realised we have to be patient and trust in our structures.”

You have wing Anthony Volmink back, one of the quickest players around?

“Anthony is a good player. He had some bad luck with the injuries he had; it’s good to see him getting another chance, with us having a few injuries, so I expect him to have a good game, and for us centres to set him up and hopefully score a few tries.”

And your centre partner Harold Vorster has really grown despite being just 21?

“Me and Harold really understand each other. We have really grown as a partnership; he asks me something if he doesn’t understand, on defence or whatever, so we help each other. And when he has something to say he talks to me. The communication has really grown, there’s no hesitation and I really trust him on my inside.”

Once mentioned as a Springbok contender, where do you think you stand with your career?

“I’m happy where I am with my career. If the team plays well, the individual performs too, so I’m happy to start the fire and just looking forward to getting better with every match.”

After the successful tour, the Lions would be happy to be back at Ellis Park?

“Homeground advantage hasn’t been a major factor this year, but now that we are back home, we want to give our home crowd something to cheer about, give them a good game as we had a good tour. The tour was great – we really enjoyed it; we managed to play some good rugby and just amazing results.

Our backs didn’t get that much opportunities, but nothing was going to be given to us on a silver platter, it really was a team effort going on tour, and if the forwards were to score all the tries we would’ve been happy too. It was all about getting the result.”

That great momentum should be great for the Lions confidence?

“We have to carry that confidence over into this weekend, but we’ll have to be much more clinical in our setpieces and our rucks and defence, but we prepared very well for this weekend.”

Last weekend against the Reds, the Lions were on high alert to prevent Quade Cooper from slotting that late penalty goal?

“We expected that because we saw he was dropping into the pocket. All the guys were just wide on defence and concentrated on not giving silly penalties away, so we knew when he was going for the drop. We had to cut it off, and the guys did that pretty well.”




today in print

today in print