New era dawns: Swys de Bruin, right, and Victor Matfield face the media in Johannesburg on Thursday. Picture: LEE WARREN/GALLO IMAGES
New era dawns: Swys de Bruin, right, and Victor Matfield face the media in Johannesburg on Thursday. Picture: LEE WARREN/GALLO IMAGES

When Victor Matfield got the call to join the Lions’ coaching set-up‚ he jumped at it.

Matfield has resumed his long-standing association with new Lions coach Swys de Bruin‚ as forwards consultant for the remainder of the Currie Cup.

He joins just as another former Springbok lock Johan Ackermann has departed the scene.

De Bruin and Matfield go way back. "Within two weeks of him joining Griquas I had him running the lineouts‚" De Bruin said, recalling Matfield’s arrival in Kimberley in 1999.

"Tukkies didn’t really want the bloke. I don’t know why. He spent two years with us. He played for the Cats and became a Springbok in Kimberley‚" said De Bruin.

"It’s like déjà vu getting a call as a 21-year-old from Swys to join him at Griquas‚" said Matfield. "So there has always been that respect. When he called this time to join him‚ again it just felt right."

Matfield‚ of course‚ has previously ventured into coaching‚ but this time he is doing it on the greener side of the Jukskei River. "The culture is so healthy here‚" said Matfield. "The respect they have for each other as well as the work ethic and the intensity they trained with.

"It is fantastic. For me as a young coach I think I can learn a lot. They’ve achieved quite a bit over the past few years. This is just a step in the right direction. If anybody asked me with which coach in SA would you want to coach‚ I would have said Swys‚" said the former Bok lock.

The Lions also have a new defence coach in Joe Mongalo‚ who guided their under-19 side to national honours in 2016.

He believes there is nothing incongruous about his role in a set-up so devoted to attack.

"We defend with the purpose of getting the ball back to score tries. We want to score as many as possible. We hate thrillers. We don’t want 45-34 victories."

De Bruin has to play catch-up. He took the reins of a Currie Cup team on Monday that had already slipped to two defeats this season.

"We turn the clock to zero because that’s when the new management started‚" he said.

Lions CE Rudolf Straeuli confirmed there had been a request by flanker Ruan Ackermann to join his father at Gloucester.

Meanwhile, the Lions have included several of their regular Super Rugby substitutes in their team to play the Sharks in a Currie Cup match on Saturday. Corne Fourie‚ Johannes Jonker‚ Cyle Brink‚ Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Sylvian Mahuza will all feature against the men from Durban.

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