Lions coach Swys de Bruin during the Emirates Lions team announcement in Johannesburg. Picture: WESSLES OOSTHUIZEN / GALLO IMAGES
Lions coach Swys de Bruin during the Emirates Lions team announcement in Johannesburg. Picture: WESSLES OOSTHUIZEN / GALLO IMAGES

After wielding the selection axe almost homicidally in the build-up to the game against the Jaguares‚ Lions coach Swys de Bruin had a simple message for the men who suffered in the carnage.

“That’s healthy. They’ve got to push and work‚” said De Bruin after his side bounced back to record a 47-39 Super Rugby win over the Jaguares at Ellis Park.

De Bruin selected an inexperienced side that included five Under-21 players, but his team played without the shackles that so hamstrung them a week earlier against the Bulls.

“Look, we are still going to rotate. There are a few good players … a few Springboks we didn’t play. You’ve got to push for your jersey now.

“There are also a few guys due to come back from injury. Jacobie Adriaanse will be in contention on the tighthead side‚ we are hoping Marvin Orie will be ready‚” he said about next week’s game against the Rebels.

“Cyle Brink is very close‚ Warren Whiteley is another three weeks away.”

De Bruin  said Brink is “the big one” because of his ability to play across the backrow. “He will definitely bolster your physical ability. The jersey is anyone’s. It depends how they train on Monday and Tuesday‚” said the coach.

The main reason all selection bets are off came as a result of the turnaround in fortunes‚ especially the first hour against the Jaguares.

Following their at times abject performance against the Bulls‚ the Lions’ tyros tore into their more grizzled opposition.

“Nathan McBeth was brilliant when he came on‚ on the loosehead side, and Wandi [Wandisile Simelane] was great.

“We had six Under-21 players if you count Tyrone Green, who was bracketed to play‚ as well. Vincent [Tshituka] was almost my man of the match. He was unreal. It was fantastic for me to see these youngsters‚” gushed De Bruin.

Captain Malcolm Marx‚ who had a storming game‚ also gave the youngsters the thumbs up.

“I was very excited about them — how they trained‚ how they came through the ranks. They proved themselves‚” said Marx.

“It was a massive test‚” De Bruin joined in. “I was asked why I would play them against a team full of internationals, but you can only test them against top guys.”

As happy as he was with the youngsters, he was most displeased with the way his team finished.

They had run in seven tries before De Bruin made a raft of changes that helped the Jaguares rally in the closing stages, running in three tries to deny the hosts a bonus point.

“In the last 10 minutes we had so many young caps up against 22 internationals. I know they rotated a lot of players‚” he said.

“What they did was phenomenal but I was not happy that we had the bonus point in the bag and we let it slip. There are a few things we did that really disappointed me. In the big picture I’m happy we scored seven tries but not happy we leaked those at the end. It’s like getting out in your nineties.

“I have to work on the positives and not get stuck on the negatives now. I’m thankful we won this one. It was a tough week mentally.”