How effective will the Lions’ lung-busting style be against SA opponents?
The team adopted a fast-paced game with an accent on scoring tries after their 2014 defeat to Chiefs
The high-tempo game that helped propel the Lions to three consecutive Super Rugby finals will not necessarily be fitted with brakes when they exclusively play local opposition over the next months.
Lions’ coach Ivan van Rooyen is keen to retain the lung-busting style when it is most effective in the thin air at Ellis Park‚ but he is also keen to see his team adapting to different styles in Super Rugby Unlocked.
“You can get sucked into it both ways. Half of your games will still be here at altitude. Half of your away games probably won’t be soaking wet. Once we get where we need to play we will do analysis‚ but it is important for us to be adaptable‚” said the coach.
The Lions adopted the more fast-paced game with an accent on scoring tries after a 2014 defeat to the Chiefs in Hamilton. They were made aware they would go nowhere in the competition‚ especially against New Zealand sides, if they continued with an overly pragmatic playing style.
They shot up the points table the next year and reached three consecutive finals from 2016.
Now Van Rooyen wants to expand their repertoire.
“We really worked hard the last four‚ five weeks to play the physical game if we have to and to go wide if we have to, also to be able to play the kicking game. That is part of where we need to grow a little bit. I’m keen to see how we adapt to it‚” he said.
The competition draw has presented them with some early challenges, with their evolution to be put to a proper test when they meet the Sharks in Durban on Friday night.
“Our draw is similar to what we had at the start of Super Rugby. We played four away games in the first six weeks with a bye included. We start with two away, and that is a great challenge.”
Once back home, it is clear they will continue with their tried-and-tested playing style when they run out.
“We spoke about how we want to play‚ especially away from home‚ and at home what we want to represent.”
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