Independent Online

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView weather by locationView market indicators

Morne van den Berg shining at number nine for Lions

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Dan Sheridan/INPHO/Shutterstock/BackpagePix (12823240ae) Leinster vs Emirates Lions. Lions' Morne van den Berg with Ed Byrne of Leinster United Rugby Championship, RDS, Dublin - 25 Feb 2022

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Dan Sheridan/INPHO/Shutterstock/BackpagePix (12823240ae) Leinster vs Emirates Lions. Lions' Morne van den Berg with Ed Byrne of Leinster United Rugby Championship, RDS, Dublin - 25 Feb 2022

Published Mar 17, 2022

Share

Johannesburg - With Andre Warner expected to be out of action for a couple of weeks more due to injury, Morne van den Berg has made the step-up, and taken the responsibility of the Lions No 9 jersey into his excitable hands with aplomb in recent weeks.

While veteran Warner is calm and measured in his approach, “Krappie” is a livewire, unpredictable and indefatigable. Warner has rightly been the mainstay as the preferred half-back due to his experience, but there is something intoxicating about watching Van den Berg go about his business.

Story continues below Advertisement

The comparisons to Springbok and former Lions man Faf de Klerk abound, but with two starts under his belt recently, and four tries to his name in the United Rugby Championship (URC), Krappie is slowly building his own name and style at the union.

“My confidence levels and match-fitness are definitely rising,” said Van den Berg in an interview with Independent Media this week.

ALSO READ: Cheetahs’ Rosko Specman says he is ’ok’ after knock against WP

“Although you put in a lot of reps during the week and you practice the different situations, it is still good to feel it in a game and actually see the reps that you put in during the week are working … It is very rewarding and I am enjoying the gametime.”

“The team morale is very good," he continued. "I think we are hungry just to stay on it and just to get better, to take the weekend’s performance (a 37-20 victory over Cardiff Rugby) and just improve it.”

In both matches Van den Berg has started against Leinster and Cardiff recently, the No 9 has been enterprising in his play. He has cleared the ball at the breakdown at speed, supplied mostly clean and crisp service, and generally made correct decisions on attack. He has also varied his play and has been unafraid to take on the gain-line with a quick tap-and-go, or with a dangerous dart around the fringes.

Story continues below Advertisement

Van den Berg admitted that he loves that part of the game, and is working hard to improve that area.

Story continues below Advertisement

“I really do enjoy broken play and trying to beat defenders,” he said, “but I won’t say I am instinctively looking for sniping. It is more about being aware of where the space is – is it by the rucks or is it out wide.

“It about always being mindful of where the space is and what is best for the team.”

The Lions host powerful Munster on Saturday at Emirates Airline Park (kick-off 2pm) in a URC clash. The Irish-outfit will still be without their most important Test players, who will be involved in an all-out assault on Scotland, also on Saturday, to claim the Six Nations championship. That, however, does not mean it will be an easy encounter for the Lions.

Story continues below Advertisement

As shown in their narrow defeat to the Bulls last weekend, Munster are a niggly side that are difficult to grind down. And despite not having some key players, they remain a class act.

There is also the possibility that Springbok Damian de Allende will be in their starting XV after he had a short run-on in Pretoria. Also, they might very well be accustomed to the altitude and the conditions going into the match in Johannesburg, more so than their limited experience at Loftus.

Van den Berg said: “Munster is a great team and they have done extremely well in this competition.

“Our focus for this week is to ensure we play well and build on our previous performances and just focus on taking the next step. We will play our hearts out and give everything that we have.”

Head coach Ivan van Rooyen names his matchday 23 on Friday.

@FreemanZAR

Share