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Young Lions coming up to speed, says utility back Sylvian Mahuza

Sylvian Mahuza of the Emirates Lions evades a tackle from Rhyno Smith of the Cell C Sharks to score a try during 2019 Super Hero Sunday game on February 3 2019.
Sylvian Mahuza of the Emirates Lions evades a tackle from Rhyno Smith of the Cell C Sharks to score a try during 2019 Super Hero Sunday game on February 3 2019.
Image: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

The new faces over which the Lions jersey has been pulled this year have a lot to take in.

Utility back Sylvian Mahuza reckons the Lions‚ who play a high energy game built on brute strength and lung-busting aerobic ability‚ aren’t going to change their ways to accommodate the newbies.

They simply need to get up to speed.

“We are trying to introduce the guys to what we’ve been doing here at the Lions over the last couple of years. I think there is also a lot of knowledge you need to learn. We’ve been building and getting better every single game.

“We are trying to play the same brand and it is taking a bit of time because of the new guys coming in. There’s a lot of information that we are trying to get them to understand‚” said Mahuza.

He said is it difficult to compare this year’s Lions with the most recent vintages.

“This is a fairly new squad. Young guys coming into Super Rugby while in the last few years we’ve had a few veterans.

“I think we are at a good stage. The Lions are a special place at the moment.

“We have great youngsters coming through. They are putting up their hand making it difficult for other players to be selected.”

Mahuza breaks into a wide smile when asked about the impact the young guns.

“The camp is awesome. The young guys are giving us energy. ‘Wandi’ [Wandisile Simelane] and Tyrone [Green] in particular.

“I think we are building at something great‚” said Mahuza who had to watch last week’s near miss against the Melbourne Rebels from the sidelines.

“Most certainly. Can’t wait‚” he said when asked if he is good to go this weekend against the Sunwolves in Singapore.

“I was disappointed not to be selected. There are certain unique things involved with selecting. We also have a tactic that we want to achieve. It is not always about a certain individual‚” Mahuza explained.

This week’s assignment takes the Lions away from their comfort zone.

Far-flung Singapore’s humidity will test their stamina‚ while the hosts also play a game quick in tempo and vast in area covered.

In their first season in Super Rugby they may have exhibited the never-say-die spirit of a kamikaze pilot‚ but these days the Sunwolves strap in for the long haul.

“They almost have the same mentality we have‚” Mahuza said. “They don’t give up. They just keep on playing and putting the pressure on other team.

“They’ve been in Super Rugby for a few seasons now. I think they know what they want to do.”

The Sunwolves have fewer locally-developed players and as a result the men who operate in their red jersey have a more grizzled look.

“Coach Swys [de Bruin] likes to call them‚ ‘internationals’‚” chuckled Mahuza.

“They play a similar game to New Zealand sides. Spreading the ball to the edges helps makes them good.

“There are a lot of tricks. New Zealand guys like one-on-one opportunities‚ then beat the guy. They are smaller so they do different things.”

On the topic of a few South Africans potentially lining up against the Lions this weekend‚ Mahuza was succinct. “Even if they know us‚ they still need to stop us.”

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