The Lions vs Kings – What will the coaches do?
February 4, 2013 in Uncategorized
The Lions take on the Southern Kings is a pre-season “friendly” practice match on Saturday. The match has been termed in some quarters as a “revenge” match and is eagerly anticipated by many South African rugby fans. For many Lions fans and the anti-Kings brigade a Lions win will reinforce the feeling that SARU’s decision to replace the Lions with the Kings in Super Rugby was a mistake.
With a few days left before the coaches name their squads for the match the question is really what the respective coaches want to achieve on the day.
For the Lions, I think, it is quite simple – they want to win and they want to win well. I expect Johan Ackermann to name his strongest available side irrespective of what team the Kings put on the field, especially as the Lions will have a month break before the Vodacom Cup competition starts in March.
The danger for the Lions is that overeagerness amongst the players may just lead to unnecessary mistakes and Ackers will have to reign in his players and ensure that they continue to play a structured game.
In the media, I see, Ackers and captain JC Janse van Renburg are trying to tone down the emotions by pointing out that this is just another game in the Lions preparation programme for the knockout matches in July. The Lions players would do well to take this to heart and not to get swept up by the emotions of the supporters. A free-for-all helter-skelter game may just back-fire on the day.
The Kings is caught between a hot rock and a hard place, a loss against a Lions team that lost most of its Super Rugby players of last year, especially if the Kings field a near full strength side, will not only increase the negative press but may also impact negatively on the players while a win against an under-strength Lions side would be seen as fairly meaningless although it will give them some hope.
Do the play their strongest available side, do they play their fringe players or do they play a somewhere inbetween side?
For the Kings this game is only about preparation for the Super Rugby and not about proving anything to anyone, their place in Super Rugby 2013 is secure. The Lions match this weekend and the match against Griquas next weekend are their last two preparation matches and I expect the Kings to split their squad into two equal sides, something of an inbetweener team for each match.
A number of ex-Lions could be facing their former team – Bandise Maku, Edgar Marutlulle, Kevin Buys, Ross Geldenhuys, David Bulbring and Demitri Catrakilis.
Match: 9 February @ 14:15 (Dstv on SHD & SS1)
Next Lions Challenge match: 16 March – Mont de Marsan (Ellis Park)
News on the USA leg: Todd Clever to lead All Stars against Lions
Commenting on the first leg of the tour, CEO and President of Rugby Operations at USA Rugby, Nigel Melville, welcomed the South Africans with open arms.
Rugby Canada’s General Manager Rugby Operations and Performance, Mike Chu, is also very excited for the Lions to arrive in Vancouver.