“The pressure is always there”
Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen (pictured) has admitted that the pressure is high ahead of tomorrow’s Super Rugby game against the Reds at Ellis Park.
It is only the second week of the competition, but already the Lions seem up against it. They lost 38-8 to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires last week and over the next six rounds have only two home games – against the Reds this week and the Stormers the following week. Then it is off to Australasia for four matches – against the Waratahs, Rebels, Blues and Highlanders.
“In our first eight weeks (including a bye) we play at home only twice, so it’s important we start well at home (this weekend),” said Van Rooyen. “The Reds are a good team, with a good coach, who’s a former player and a physically hard man (former All Black Brad Thorn), and they’ll likely play like that as well. We respect them for sure.”
Van Rooyen admitted that there was already pressure on his team to win. “The pressure is always there,” he said.
To give his team their best chance of knocking over the Reds and registering a win before the Stormers’ visit next week, Van Rooyen has included the experienced Andries Coetzee at fullback, following the 13-Test star’s return from Japan, while at scrumhalf the exciting Morné van den Berg gets a first start.
“Andries is in good shape and he’s fit, and it’s always nice getting guys like him back. And Morné has been pressing hard; he’s a tough, nuggety player, who’ll bring a lot of energy to the team. I’m looking forward to seeing him play,” said Van Rooyen.
Coetzee and Van den Berg replace Tiaan Swanepoel and André Warner respectively, both of whom started against the Jaguares. New to the bench is scrumhalf back-up Dillon Smit and flyhalf-cum-fullback Shaun Reynolds.
One area Van Rooyen will hope his team shows a big improvement in is defence, after they let in five tries last weekend. The Lions coach though said he and his coaching team had focused on all areas of their game this week.
Lions (15-1): Andries Coetzee, Tyrone Green, Duncan Matthews, Dan Kriel, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies (capt), Morné van den Berg, Len Massyn, Vincent Tshituka, Marnus Schoeman, Marvin Orie, Ruben Schoeman, Jannie du Plessis, Pieter Jansen, Dylan Smith. Bench: Jan-Henning Campher, Sti Sithole, Carlu Sadie, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Ruan Vermaak, Dillon Smit, Manuel Rass, Shaun Reynolds