Though he admitted his team are somewhat relieved, towering Lions lock Marvin Orie was diplomatic about the absence of dangerous Waratahs fullback Israel Folau ahead of their Super Rugby clash at Ellis Park this weekend.
Despite Folau’s contract being terminated over his recent social media rants, Orie believed the tourists are still a formidable attacking force.
“As a lock it doesn’t affect me all that much, but as a team it’s fortunate (for us) that he doesn’t play,” Orie said.
“He is incredible in the air and he is a great player – one of the best in the world in the air.”
The Lions are back at home for the first time in a month, but Orie admitted two of their four previous games at home this season had ended in big defeats because their forward pack had been thumped.
“We had a fairly good start away from home and then one or two games at home didn’t go our way,” he said.
“The team changed a bit and there were a few things out of our control, but I like to believe we are more settled in with leadership. We lost a few key players, but with most of them back it will hopefully make a big difference.”
Orie, a former Lions captain, conceded that the tight facets would always remain an important part in the game.
“Against the Bulls they controlled the tempo from the tight facets and dominated, and we have learned from that, but it was early in the season and we could see where we went wrong.
“But I can promise one thing, we have learned a great deal.”
And while the sideshow created by the temporary absence of coach Swys de Bruin and defence mentor Joey Mongalo had affected the Lions squad, Orie insisted the players were focused on the game.
“Coach Swys and coach Joey are very important to the team and it’s great to have them back,” he said.
“Coach Swys is probably one of the best attacking coaches in the world.”