Thu, 25 Feb 2021

  • The Lions aren't too preoccupied with what challenges the predicted hot weather will pose in Saturday's Currie Cup semi-final against the Bulls.
  • Coach Ivan van Rooyen, in fact, said his troops would embrace the conditions as they haven't been able to play on many dry days this season.
  • But that doesn't mean the Lions will be carefree in their approach as the weather will still dictate what type of game they'll play.

Just like they'll embrace the metaphorical heat put on them by the Bulls in Saturday's Currie Cup semi-final at Loftus, so will the Lions also give the actual heat a bear hug.

With the mercury in Pretoria expected to reach 33 this weekend, legitimate questions have been asked over how the players will cope and how it might affect the rugby that will be dished up.

Yet Ivan van Rooyen, the Lions' head coach, made the interesting point that his team hasn't exactly played much in dry conditions this season.

Various fixtures have been played in overcast, wet conditions or in the evening.

"It's strange, in our last five games or so, only the Cheetahs game (memorably won 39-23 in Bloemfontein) was played in dry conditions," Van Rooyen said on Thursday.

"The rest were all wet. So we're actually quite grateful to be looking forward to a 14:00 kickoff. It will be warm yes, but we're excited."

Without mentioning it, Van Rooyen's assembled match-squad - which for now will feature a six-two split - suggests that the men from Doornfontein have simply accepted the fact that conditions could be stifling.

"The bench will play a role, that's why we went with that approach," he said.

"Hopefully, the guys are so tired by minute 55 to 60, that we do have to bring on the bench en masse as that would mean we've really got stuck in.

"That's the plan. Maybe we'd be able to use them even earlier."

That doesn't mean though that the Lions will simply go out and be as cavalier as possible, especially since they came close to toppling the Bulls twice previously.

"We did create enough opportunities against them, we just didn't capitalise on them," said Van Rooyen.

"That gives us confidence, but we'll have to see how the weather pans out. Will it allow us to play with the ball or not? We need to be brave sure, we need to give this game a full crack.

"We're keen to go to Loftus and see if we can put the Bulls under pressure, whether it's with ball in hand or not or with a kicking game. We've worked hard the past two weeks on our decision-making to help us determine what the approach should be.

"I'm really excited to see how the players will react."

Teams:

Bulls

15 David Kriel, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Stravino Jacobs, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Schalk Erasmus, 1 Lizo Gqoboka

Substitutes: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Jan Uys, 20 Arno Botha, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren.

Lions

15 Tiaan Swanepoel, 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Andrew Warner, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vince Tshituka, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Sti Sithole

Substitutes (from): 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 21 Morne van den Berg, 22 Dan Kriel, 23 Francke Horn, 24 Nathan McBeth, 25 EW Viljoen, 26 Ross Cronje

Source: News24

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