lions have little hope

GAUTENG Lions president Kevin de Klerk's decision to send a sports psychologist to assist the Lions team in their preparation for Saturday's clash with the Crusaders in Christchurch is a sign of desperation.

GAUTENG Lions president Kevin de Klerk's decision to send a sports psychologist to assist the Lions team in their preparation for Saturday's clash with the Crusaders in Christchurch is a sign of desperation.

In fact, it will probably prove to be a complete waste of time, since nothing short of a miracle will help the Lions to get their first win of the season. Taking on the Crusaders in Christchurch is akin to facing up to the Bulls in Pretoria ... a near impossible task.

Coming off a 73-12 hiding by the Waratahs last Friday, the Lions have made a number of changes for this week's game but the side still has a soft look to it.

Wigan Pekeur gets a start on the wing, while first-choice flyhalf Carlos Spencer finds himself on the bench to be replaced by Burton Francis. Spencer's expensive signing is backfiring on the Lions coaching staff and at 34 years of age he looks a season or two past his best.

At scrumhalf Jano Vermaak gets his first start of the season after six months out through injury, but the lack of experience of those outside him is bound to be cruelly exposed by the Crusaders.

Willem Stoltz and Heinke van der Merwe also drop down to the bench to be replaced by George Earle and Ross Geldenhuys, respectively.

The Crusaders will have their tails up after beating the Chiefs 26-19 away from home in Hamilton last weekend. Sitting comfortably in third place on the log - behind the Bulls and Stormers - the Crusaders have dropped just the one game this year when going down to the Queensland Reds 20-41 in week two.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has yet to name his starting XV for the clash but is expected to stick to his winning formula. At flyhalf Daniel Carter is regaining the form that made him the No 1 flyhalf in world rugby for a couple of years. With 996 points to his name in Super rugby, Carter can easily be expected to break the 1000-point milestone come Saturday.

Up front Crusaders captain Richie McCaw and fellow All Blacks Brad Thorn and Owen Franks will be licking their lips in anticipation of a romp over a Lions side that is down and just about out. The shrink might find a queue of men in red jerseys outside his room after the match.

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