JOHANNESBURG – Lions boss Swys de Bruin says the Sharks will be a desperate team when they visit Ellis Park for a round eight Super Rugby match tomorrow (7.10pm kick-off).
The Sharks, one of the favourites to win this year’s South African Conference, have a 50 percent win record so far with three wins. They have lost every match against fellow SA sides - the Bulls, twice, and the Stormers.
After a winning start to their campaign - they beat the Sunwolves away and the Blues at home - they lost to the Stormers in Durban (16-11) and then to the Bulls in Pretoria (37-14). They then beat the Rebels at home, but last weekend lost in the dying minutes to the Bulls (19-16).
De Bruin said the Sharks going down to the Bulls for a second time would have stung.
“They’ve lost two home games now and they’re going to be a desperate side this week,” said the Lions boss, who spent many years coaching in Durban, working with the union’s academy players.
“We know what’s coming (from them). They’re going to come hard at us in the forwards; it’s going to be an arm wrestle until the end.
“There are Springboks in every position in their backline, and plenty in the pack as well; there’s Beast (Mtawarira), Coenie (Oosthuizen), the Du Preezs, Andre Esterhuizen.
“They’re an excellent team and they’re well coached, too. It’s going to be so physical; they’re going to take us on, but we’re ready.”
1 day to go! Make sure you book your tickets for the Vodacom Super Rugby clash between the Emirates Lions and Cell C Sharks at @emirates Airline Park.— Emirates Lions (@LionsRugbyCo) April 4, 2019
Match day activities: https://t.co/Fiihgl7rzn
Travel options to the stadium here: https://t.co/Sf33QO4B6m#LionsPride #LIOvSHA pic.twitter.com/mqeAfi7UX5
De Bruin has put plans in place for the expected physical onslaught by picking just two backs (and six forwards) on the bench. Only Nic Groom and either Wandisile Simelane or Sylvian Mahuza will cover the backs.
“We’ve got a few forwards there who can play in the backs as well, so I’m happy we’re covered,” he said.
It would seem loose forward Hacjivah Dayimani is one of the players De Bruin feels could slot in among the backs if need be.
While the Sharks are smarting after losing last weekend, the Lions are coming off a bye and having won three in a row before that. They got the better of the Jaguares, Rebels and Sunwolves before putting their feet up for a week, but De Bruin said it made no difference who played last week and who didn’t.
“That sort of thing doesn’t have an influence anymore,” he said.
“Sometimes having a break halts your momentum if you’ve been playing well and winning, but if you’ve been battling it can be beneficial in that it allows you to clear your mind. We’ve played well before when we’ve had five games in a row, and we’ve played well first game back after a bye.
You’ve still got to take it one game at a time.”@jacq_west