Lions boss Johan Ackermann is banking on his so-called X-factor players to deliver the goods and help produce a winning effort against the unpredictable Blues in a Super Rugby match at Ellis Park tomorrow.
The Lions are desperate to get back on the winning track after suffering back-to-back
defeats by the Bulls and Sharks and Ackermann
believes his new-look team has the potential to match what the Blues throw at them. He added his side would revert to their attack-minded game after “perhaps over-doing the tactical side of things” against the Sharks last weekend.
“This is an exciting team, with a lot of X-factor,”
explained Ackermann yesterday when he named a line-up showing a few interesting changes from last week.
For one, Marnitz Boshoff – so good at flyhalf in the Lions first two games – replaces
Elton Jantjies at No10, while also at the back Coenie van Wyk comes in at 15, and JW Jonker and Courtnal Skosan come in on the wings. Up front, Willie Britz gets a first start in 2014, while hooker Robbie
Coetzee is also back in the run-on XV.
“This is an opportunity for Coenie at the back. He’s got an X-factor about him and JW also deserves an opportunity. Courtnal’s performance in the Vodacom Cup side last weekend was very good and he’s got lots of pace out wide.
“Hopefully the outside backs will perform well,” said Ackermann.
Regarding the decision to relegate Jantjies to the bench after a poor showing in Durban, the Lions boss explained: “Elton was under a lot of pressure early on last week, after we conceded early tries, and right now Marnitz is the in-form player. We’ve got to get
Elton’s confidence back, and we’ll do that from off the bench. He’s a positive guy and I know he’ll bounce back.”
While Ackermann and his coaching team will be hoping for a dry field tomorrow to assist in their running game, he knows his side first have to do the basics well before they can think of having a crack at the Blues – a dangerous side when they get it right, but a team who can also get it horribly wrong on the day. The Blues, on average, score 37 points per match against the Lions – the most they score against any team in the competition.
“They’ve got very good backs and like an open game, so they’ll look to counter-attack us, meaning our kicking game will have to be very good,” said Ackermann of the Blues. “The secret is to keep the ball away from them and hang on to our possession. We’ll also have to guard against falling into an unstructured game, because if that happens anything can happen.”
The Blues are well-known for their attacking threat, making 22 clean line-breaks already this year – the most by any team – but the Lions’ defence has stood up well, with them completing 88percent of their tackles.
“We’re not going to change anything in our defence. We simply need to stay in our structures, but it will be up to the individuals to make their tackles,” said Ackermann.
Lions: Coenie van Wyk, JW Jonker, Deon van Rensburg, Stefan Watermeyer, Courtnall Skosan, Marnitz Boshoff, Faf de Klerk, Warren Whiteley (capt), Willie Britz, Jaco Kriel, Franco van der Merwe, Franco Mostert, Julian Redelinghuys, Robbie Coetzee, Schalk van der Merwe. Replacements: Willie Wepener, Corne Fourie, Ruan Dreyer, MB Lusaseni, Warwick Tecklenburg, Ross Cronje, Elton Jantjies, Ruan Combrinck. - TheStar