at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
The good news for the Lions is thast they picked up no injuries in their loss to the Sharks.The bad news is the wet weather in Gauteng is seriously hampering their preparations ahead of their clash with the Blues on Saturday.
As was the case last week when the wet weather hampered training sessions before their trip to Durban, water-logged fields and persistent rain are making life difficult for coach Johan Ackermann and his players. The Lions are desperate to get back to winning ways this weekend after suffering back-to-back defeats, against the Bulls and Sharks.
Lions team manager Mus-tapha Boomgaard said the rain was certainly a stumbling block, but that they were managing to bridge it.
“We’ve got good indoor facilities at Ellis Park and Joburg Stadium and we’re using the tartan track at Joburg Stadium as well,” he said. “While the players were on the field for a while on Monday, it really is too water-logged to train on.”
Boomgaard said that should the weather continue as it’s been the last 10 days, the players would move indoors for the rest of the week. “The problem with that, however, is there’s not enough space. We need more space than an indoor hall to practise our ‘plays’. That’s what is being affected the most ... we can’t go through our ‘plays’ properly.”
Of course water-logged fields are also not much use to the kickers in the team, especially those men tasked with the goal-kicking duties – Marnitz Boshoff and Elton Jantjies. They will be hoping for drier weather towards the end of the week to hone their skills and will, like the rest of the Lions team, hope Saturday dawns drier than it’s been in recent times.
The Lions are a tough team to beat at home and more so when they’ve got a dry field to play on. The good news is that by Saturday the heavy rains of the past few weeks should have moved on – a scenario which would suit Ackermann’s charges, but also the Blues. Both teams like playing expansive, running rugby – and both will believe they can win at the weekend, meaning we could be in for an open, attack-minded approach.
Ackermann doesn’t have any major new injury concerns, but is still unable to select the likes of Derick Minnie, Michael Bondesio and Alwyn Hollenbach, who’re out for lengthy periods. He does, however, have the luxury of picking the same 23 men who did duty in Durban for this week’s match, but is unlikely to stick to the same combination.
The key decision revolves around flyhalf. Does Ackermann stick with Jantjies at No10 and Boshoff at fullback – as they were employed against the Sharks – or does Boshoff, such a prolific operator in the first two rounds of Super Rugby action, move back to 10, with Jantjies being used off the bench? Also, Ackermann is sure to rotate a few men up front, with the likes of Jacques van Rooyen, Corné Fourie, MB Lusaseni and Willie Britz possibly getting a chance to start.
Ackermann will name his team tomorrow. - The Star