JOHANNESBURG - Having reaped the reward of staying on South African time for their match against the Waratahs on Friday the Lions will have now “crossed over” to Australian time as they prepare for their next match on tour, against the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday.
The Lions spent two days in Sydney last week eight hours “behind” their local time having opted to remain on South African time for the match against the Tahs. It was a decision that worked out perfectly for the travelling Lions who romped to a 29-0 win against Australia’s leading Super Rugby side.
But they will now be on local Australian time, and eating and sleeping at normal hours, as opposed to late last week when their day and night were virtually swopped around. The Lions will also be full of confidence ahead of their outing against the Reds later this week, having kept the Waratahs scoreless and putting four tries past them.
There are also apparently no serious injury concerns which will be a relief for coach Swys de Bruin, who on the eve of their departure out of Joburg last week lost captain Warren Whiteley to a recurring knee problem. But there is still a chance the inspirational No 8 will join his teammates on tour, but will have to pass a fitness test on Monday to do so.
“He’s still feeling the knee,” said Lions CEO Rudolf Straeuli after Whiteley had visited an orthopaedic surgeon and had an MRI scan done. “The scan showed there is no further damage to the knee (after sitting out the last five weeks); that it was just a tweak.
"The thing is Warren is uncomfortable and it comes down to his being confident running. He’ll do another test on Monday and when he’s deemed fit he’ll join the tour. It’s as frustrating for us as a union, as it is for him and all of you.”
As special a leader and player he is, the Lions showed against the Tahs they can manage just fine without Whiteley and De Bruin and Co will look to back the same players this week against the men from Brisbane. And they should be confident of making it an eighth win in a row against Australian opposition.
The Reds have struggled in recent times and this year have managed just three wins from eight outings. This last weekend they went down 36-12 at home to the Chiefs and are down in 12th place in the standings with 13 log points. The Lions are top of the pile with 30 points thanks to their six wins from nine, but they have played a game more than their nearest rivals who’ve only played eight or seven matches.
De Bruin and Co will certainly want another win this weekend before they head to New Zealand for dates with the Hurricanes and Highlanders - two teams in the top six and among the favourites to feature in the play-offs later this season. Saturday’s match kicks off at 7am SA time.