JOHANNESBURG - New Lions forwards boss - and scrum guru - Philip Lemmer can hardly contain his excitement ahead of Saturday's big Super Rugby showdown with the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.
“Everyone wants to beat the Lions and show what they can do, but we’re just as excited,” said the 34-year-old.
“There’s a lot of hype around the Bulls now that they’re being coached by John Mitchell and the vibe there is good no doubt. So it’s going to be a big game, like every game we play.
“This is why we play rugby to face the best of the best, to challenge ourselves. It’s going to be a tough game there, but we’re all excited. The plans are in place and now it’s up to the players to execute them and to express themselves.”
Lemmer has started his Super Rugby coaching career with a bang, leading the Lions to dominant scrumming performances against the highly-rated Sharks and Jaguares. In both games his front row of props Ruan Dreyer and Jacques van Rooyen and hooker Malcolm Marx won the battles at the set-piece and they’ll start as favourites against the Bulls this weekend. Another strong showing by the Lions could set them on their way to a third straight win this season.
Lemmer said he has taken over a forwards coaching position that was already very healthy.
“Everyone here at the Lions, from the very top, to the bottom, has backed me from day one,” said the former Emerging Boks prop from 2008 and national wrestling representative. “This is a union that encourages excellence and it’s a massive honour and privilege to be a part of it, and now especially at Super Rugby level.”
Lemmer and two other Super Rugby assistant coaches to Swys de Bruin made their mark in the Lions’ junior structures and were promoted at the start of this season. The others are defence coach Joey Mongalo and backs mentor Neil de Bruin.
“I couldn’t believe the news when I was offered the chance to move up to the Super Rugby team,” said Lemmer. “And the great thing is the three of us (the young coaches) all know each other so well, we trust each other, understand each other and believe in each other. And then there’s coach Swys who’s really like a father figure to us. We really are such a good fit.”
It’s one thing though being a successful junior coach, dealing with U-19 boys and even Varsity Cup players (Lemmer was also previously involved with the University of Johannesburg team) and quite another coaching seasoned Boks, like Dreyer, Marx, Franco Mostert.
“The secret is we work together, alongside each other,” explained Lemmer. “Sure, it’s different at this level, but I got the players’ backing from day one. It’s been awesome we share so much between ourselves which is brilliant because that’s how you grow.
“At the end of the day though it’s up to the players to produce the goods on the field; all I can do is show them the right technique."