The Lions are still in the fight‚ says De Bruin

Sylvian Mahuza of the Lions scores a try during the Super Rugby match between Emirates Lions and Jaguares at Emirates Airline Park on February 24, 2018 in Johannesburg.
Sylvian Mahuza of the Lions scores a try during the Super Rugby match between Emirates Lions and Jaguares at Emirates Airline Park on February 24, 2018 in Johannesburg.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Had he at the start of the season been offered 31 log points after 12 matches in this year’s Super Rugby competition‚ he would have taken it‚ insists Lions coach Swys de Bruin.

The coach has become tetchy when asked about his team’s recent performances‚ which now includes three straight defeats on their tour of Australasia.

The most recent back-to-back finalists also suffered home defeats to the Blues and the Crusaders and although they’ve been impressive going forward they haven’t necessarily done the same on the points table.

“We are conference leaders and we are in the fight‚” De Bruin said defiantly. “It is all perceptions‚” he said about the Lions’ perceived poor performances.

“The team has by far the most line breaks in the competition. Seventy-five percent is from the backs. Maybe expectations are high. If there is a problem we’ll address it.

"We’ve scored 58 tries and the next best South African team has scored 41. Let’s focus on the positives‚” he suggested.

While it is true that the Lions have maintained their try scoring ability‚ their game management has let them down.

In the absence of regular No8 and captain Warren Whiteley there has been an on field leadership vacuum.

The Lions chose to name their team to play the Brumbies on international museum day inside the Ellis Park museum on Thursday.

Despite the venue they had renewal in mind as De Bruin opted to reintroduce wings Sylvian Mahuza and Madosh Tambwe‚ as well as No8 Hacjivah Dayimani to his squad.

In addition‚ Aphiwe Dyantyi moves to centre with Lionel Mapoe (groin) and Harold Vorster (flu) ruled out.

“He loves 13‚” De Bruin said of Dyantyi.

“He’s a good player. He’s got massive talent. The plan is to make sure he gets enough ball.

“Madosh did well at stages. We worked on his confidence‚ he’s got it back.”

There is movement on the bench too with the calming influence of Ross Cronjé returning to the squad.

“I was relieved when Ross was declared fit‚” admitted De Bruin.

Whiteley’s continued absence remains a concern. His time is running out to impress the Bok selectors.

“Warren is a real race horse kind of guy. The doctors can say he’s okay but he needs to know that he is 100 percent okay. He’ll be back soon‚” said De Bruin.

Saturday’s Super Rugby match will be flyhalf Elton Jantjies’ 100th. “Obviously this is a massive milestone and something I wanted to achieve. But it’s not about me‚ it’s about the team‚” said Jantjies.

The Brumbies are hoping to have their Wallaby prop Scott Sio available for the game.

Sio was knocked out in last weekend’s clash against the Reds and has to be put through concussion protocols before he can be given the green light.

The Lions team to play the Brumbies is – Andries Coetzee; Sylvian Mahuza‚ Aphiwe Dyantyi‚ Rohan Janse van Rensburg‚ Madosh Tambwe; Elton Jantjies‚ Nic Groom; Hacjivah Dayimani‚ Franco Mostert (captain)‚ Kwagga Smith; Mavin Orie‚ Lourens Erasmus; Ruan Dreyer‚ Robbie Coetzee‚ Dylan Smith.

Substitutes: Corne Fourie‚ Jacques van Rooyen‚ Johannes Jonker‚ Len Massyn‚ Marnus Schoeman; Ross Cronjé‚ Shaun Reynolds‚ Ruan Combrinck.

- TimesLIVE

Source: TMG Digital.