JOHANNESBURG – The Lions are approaching Saturday’s Super Rugby match against the Hurricanes in Wellington like they do every away game and insist they are not looking to “set the record right”.
It will be the Lions’ first visit to the so-called “Cake Tin” in Wellington since the 2016 final, when the home team smashed the Lions 20-3 in atrocious conditions; the visitors never really having a chance to win a first ever title.
In wet, cold and windy conditions, the Canes dominated all areas of the game with Cory Jane and Beauden Barrett scoring the only tries of the match, both coming from Lions' mistakes. Barrett would convert that brace of tries, while also slotting over two more penalties to ensure an emphatic victory.
The Lions get a chance this weekend to make up in part for that disappointing day; their first crack at the title, and coming just three years after they were kicked out of the competition because of poor results.
De Bruin, however, said yesterday that this weekend’s match will be approached like any other.
“It’s not about setting records right,” he said. “It’s not about revenge or anything like that ... for us, it’s just another away game. We’re going to follow the process we always follow and try and win the game, like we do every week.”
“Every win from now on is going to be hugely important and we definitely want more points out of this tour. We’re going to go full out in the next two matches.”
The Lions kicked off their tour of Australasia on the best possible note with a 29-0 whitewash of the Waratahs in Sydney, but a horror first half last weekend against the Reds, which saw them fall 24-0 behind at the interval, cost them the match.
They went down 27-22 after the 80 minutes with De Bruin stating yesterday: “We don’t know exactly what the reasons are for why we didn’t play (in the first half) like we had trained; we’re looking into the reasons, and now we’re focusing on the next game.”
After this weekend’s match, the Lions still have to travel to Dunedin for a date with the Highlanders, before they return home. But getting back on track this weekend will be priority number one.
And, De Bruin knows what his team are up against.
“The Hurricanes are a very strong side ... they’re always excellent at home. They’re very strong in the rucks, with Ardie Savea standing out there, so we’re going to have to work hard and be clinical hanging onto possession.”
“We have to up the intensity and be better in our ball carries, and protecting the ball carrier, something we didn’t do against the Reds. Also, we have to improve our decision-making from last week.”
The Lions team will be named today but expect fit-again centre Lionel Mapoe to return to the starting XV in place of Rohan Janse van Rensburg, while wing Aphiwe Dyantyi, who joined the team earlier this week after making a successful return to the field last weekend, is also expected to be in the mix on Saturday.
De Bruin could spring a few other surprises after several players looked out of sorts in that poor first half showing last week in Brisbane.
In 15 games between the two sides, the Lions have only won two matches - in 2007 and last season's semi-final encounter at Ellis Park. The Lions have never beaten the Hurricanes away.
Saturday’s match at the Westpac Stadium kicks off at 9.35am.