The Lions bank on the 'Bone Collector' and the rotation policy down in Durban should pay dividends.
Can the ‘Bone Collector’ save the Lions?
Willem Alberts. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
Are they clutching at straws or do the Lions believe the introduction of big Willem Alberts will make the required impact to get them back on the Super Rugby winning trail on Saturday against the Rebels in Melbourne?
The 35-year-old former Springbok is sure to make a difference in the collisions and his flank partner Marnus Schoeman rightly pointed out that the Lions need to acquire quick recycled ball if they are to pull of their traditional game-plan.
The Lions made a name for themselves in the recent past by employing a quick tempo, but they simply don’t have the forwards currently to get them over the gain line consistently.
That’s why the selection of Alberts is appealing. Is he the behemoth that helps lay the platform for quality possession from the breakdowns?
Time will tell, especially since there are reservations still over the veteran’s fitness levels for such an ambitious approach. – Rudolph Jacobs
Rotation policy will pay off for the Sharks
Some mixing and matching on tour has allowed Sharks coach Sean Everitt to go into a crucial arm-wrestle against the Jaguares with a full-strength side.
He will be acutely aware of how their experience will assist in the composure his charges will need to show, especially given 2020’s trend of visiting teams flourishing away from home and last year’s example where the Sharks, after thrashing the Lions 42-8 at Ellis Park, lost 17-51 to the Argentinians in their own backyard the next week.
But there’s another consideration too: they don’t quite have the depth of a team like the Stormers.
Eyebrows are already being raised at the workload of the two locks, Hyron Andrews and Ruben van Heerden, and it would be challenging to fill the void of Thomas du Toit and Ox Nche in the front row.
As a result, it could be crucial that players such as flankers Henco Venter and Dylan Richardson and, to a lesser extent, props Mzamo Majola and John-Hubert Meyer have performed well on the recent Australasian tour.
“We’ve grown the squad and helped fringe players gain confidence. At some stage we will have injuries and they’ll be able to step up,” was Everitt’s sound logic. – Heinz Schenk
Bulls need their seniors more than ever
Josh Strauss. (Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images)
“Youth” and “energy” were selection buzzwords in the Bulls camp this week.
Yet as Morne Steyn pointed out this week, Pote Human’s young team go into the game against the Highlanders at Loftus under pressure.
Four losses out of four will do that to a team.
As a result, the Bulls can’t really afford the rookies to totally run the show.
“The youngsters won’t lack motivation. But when you’re under pressure like we are, that’s the time when the younger guys really start looking to the more experienced guys for insights,” he said.
“They draw on your wisdom because you’ve experienced it before. And that’s fine, because you don’t want them making hasty decisions on the field. The rookies want to follow a lead. They want to see how we adapt and make sure we play better. I, for one, want to continue improving because no player wants to sit on a bench. But it remains a team thing. It’s about 28-30 guys in one squad uniting and making a collective effort to lift the playing standards.” – Heinz Schenk
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