JOHANNESBURG - Lions coach Swys de Bruin has called on the match officials to be equally strict with the Crusaders as they are with his team when the sides clash in the Super Rugby final in Christchurch on Saturday.
De Bruin said on the eve of the team’s departure to New Zealand, where they will play in their third straight final against the defending and eight-times champions, he would meet with final referee Angus Gardner of Australia before kick-off. “One thing we must be aware of, it is their home ground ... I speak from the heart about this, there is stuff they get away with more than other teams. I want to have a meeting before the game with the referee,” said De Bruin.
He said the New Zealand teams, and especially the Crusaders, appeared to get an easier ride than other teams because “they are champions and people think they’re good and can thus get away with stuff”. Added De Bruin: “The offside lines must apply for both sides. I have gone through the clips ... they get away with things on the offside line, the left-hand hit at the scrum, on the loosehead ... stuff like that. All we’re asking for is a fair deal; I hope we get it.”
De Bruin also referenced last weekend’s Crusaders victory over the Hurricanes in the semi-final where the visitors to Christchurch were given no space to play their game. “The modern trend is to play a rush defence, so if it’s within the law it’s fine, but if one team rushes up and kills all the space it makes it tough.
“We’re a team who like to play in space and I will make sure we get that space. There is a reason why you have to be 10 yards back in defence at a scrum. Last weekend when TJ Perenara (Hurricanes scrumhalf) touched the ball the defence was five metres away ... that can’t be; the defence must be 10 metres away until the ball is out. Those are the things I’ll address with the referee.”
TEAM OF THE WEEK: #SuperRugby Semi-Finals.— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) July 31, 2018
TOTW is interesting mix with @crusadersrugby leading the way with six players. Dynamic @LionsRugbyCo flanker Kwagga Smith who scored two tries against the Waratahs is Player of the Week.
Full details and stats: https://t.co/WZfZjyq83S pic.twitter.com/Izjop4T0qd
The Lions are preparing for a wet weather game, in cold conditions, something that might influence the team De Bruin selects to start. The good news is he has a fully fit squad to pick from, including wing Aphiwe Dyantyi and Cyle Brink, both players who had to pass fitness tests before boarding the flight out of OR Tambo International on Monday night.
“The weather might play a role ... I see it’s going to be six degrees (Celsius) on Saturday when we kick off, with a 21km/hour wind, and we know that stadium well. It’s all steel, there’s no concrete, so there’s no protection. It’s a great ground to go and play at,” said De Bruin cheekily.