Rudolph Jacobs
Rugby journalist
2 minute read
15 Apr 2016
2:01 pm

Why the Lions retained the same side

Rudolph Jacobs

It’s not often one will find Lions coach Johan Ackermann retaining the same side from the previous weekend.

FILE PICTURE: Lions coach Johan Ackermann. Picture: Lee Warren/Gallo Images.

As he is one coach who have rotated his side weekly with especially his front-row being changed consistently in an effort to keep them fresh.

However for their big Super Rugby clash on Saturday evening against the Stormers the Lions will have exactly the same team who overwhelmed the Sharks in Durban 24-9 a week ago.

There could however be one tweak with flank Jaco Kriel struggling with an arm injury and a call only being made after the Captain’s Run on Friday afternoon, but whether the Lions’ will delay a final decision until shortly before kickoff is also a realistic possibility.

With props Dylan Smith and Julian Redelinghuys playing a leading role in destroying the Sharks scrum a week ago, he is probably looking for the same outcome – albeit against a Stormers scrum who have dominated all opposition this year.

“I know that I’ve could’ve changed the side, it’s not the rotation that scared me, because of the big challenge, it’s more about time-management,” said Ackermann.

“So next week I definitely will rotate again, players like a Rohan Janse van Rensburg (centre) and a Jaco van der Walt (fullback) didn’t play as much as the guys they replaced.

“Faf de Klerk (scrumhalf) has played a lot and it’s another opportunity to see what he can bring off the bench and at the same time Ross Cronje can get another 50 or 60 under the belt,” he said.

“But individually I’ll assess every single player, but for this week we felt the momentum was there and unnecessary to rotate while it’s great to have the consistency in the team,” he said.

While the Lions always have the altitude factor at Ellis Park to rely on in the final 20 minutes of a game, Ackermann felt the Stormers have met that threat by naming a very powerful bench.

“If you look at Damian de Allende etc, they have a quality bench which can make a big difference and a big test for us,” he said.

“But it’s a funny game, the one week you can have the upperhand at one phase, and the next week everybody attacks you in that phase so it could be a long fight so we’ll leave it up to the day and hopefully everyone will do well,” said Ackermann.

In the two matches the sides have played last year the Stormers won 22-19 at Ellis Park, while the return game at Newlands was drawn 19-19.