Here, we point out how the Lions can get back on track in their race to feature in the play-offs.
Get the defence sorted out
With their being so much uncertainty in recent times around the future of defence coach Joey Mongalo – who has now been punished by the Lions, but will continue in his role – he and the players can now properly focus on the job at hand. The Lions have been caught out defensively this season, and won’t be happy with the 37 tries they’ve conceded in 11 matches. They need to tighten up and ensure they don’t gift the Waratahs any free points this weekend.
Make home a home again
It wasn’t too long ago that the Lions had racked up an impressive home run record, but this year they have already lost twice at home in four matches (against the Bulls and Sharks), while in the other two outings they just edged past the Jaguares and Rebels. Questions have rightly been asked about whether they have lost their aura at home, but they can show with a strong winning performance this weekend that Ellis Park is still a fortress.
The big boys must stand up
There are more than 10 Springbok players in the Lions squad, and a good few former Junior Bok stars, too, so there is more than enough talent, class and skill in the group for the Lions to be doing better than they are. The leaders need to take charge in the absence again of Warren Whiteley, who is nursing a knee inury, while those players who have represented their country must show that they’re better than the men opposing them.
Swys must pick right
Coach Swys de Bruin, pictured, must find the right man to lead the side for the next few weeks, but he must also ensure his loose-trio combination is well balanced with Whiteley out injured, and he needs to find the right combinations at the back who can spark the team into life. With the exciting Gianni Lombard out injured, will Elton Jantjies play at 10 or 12, and where will Aphiwe Dyantyi fit in – in midfield or on the wing?
Restore the brotherhood
Words that have been used frequently by the Lions in recent years include “family” and “brotherhood”– the things that ensured the Joburg union became a competitive force after their Super Rugby axing in 2013. Is the “brotherhood” still intact? It hasn’t helped that several star men have moved abroad and injuries have hit hard, while there have been issues at coaching level, too. For the Lions to roar again they need to find each other again, and restore the pride.@jacq_west