Cape Town - If the Lions can get their second half right, they will have a much better chance of beating the Glasgow Warriors at Ellis Park on Saturday afternoon (4.15pm kick-off).
That was the message from scrum coach Julian Redelinghuys on Friday after a couple of changes were made to the team that lost 29-7 to the Sharks in Johannesburg last week.
It’s been a tough few weeks for coach Ivan van Rooyen and his team, with their defeats on the pitch made worse by reports of player unhappiness and poor management off it during overseas tours.
They are 14th on the United Rugby Championship log, and must beat the Scottish club to turn things around.
Sanele Nohamba moves up from the bench to start at No 9 in place of Morné van den Berg, Francke Horn is back from injury at No 8 – which sees Emmanuel Tshituka shift to blindside flank – and Ruan Venter moves from No 7 to No 4 lock as Willem Alberts takes a break.
“It’s really nice to have Francke back. He was our settled number eight before he got injured, and him coming back adds a little bit to our attack and set piece,” Redelinghuys said.
“Attacking-wise on the edges, Francke brings a little bit of a different strength, whereas we like to play ‘Manu’ (Tshituka) more to get stuck into the thick of things, so that helps the attack a little bit. At set piece, Francke is a good lineout option, smart player.
“(Nohamba) is a different kicking option, and we have good scrumhalves, so rotating them is something we think we have to do to keep them sharp.
“Sanele for this weekend is the right option, and we’ve seen Krappie (Van den Berg) coming off the bench in the second half and really make an impact. Sanele is very good at goal-kicking as well!”
The Lions have made some good starts in a few matches, but despite the forwards in particular providing front-foot ball, the backline has battled to find their rhythm on attack.
“Rugby is actually quite a simple game. If you do well set-piece-wise … We felt we started well in most of our games, and in the second half, we almost lose the momentum, lose the dominance, and then it almost becomes like mistake, mistake, mistake,” former Springbok tighthead prop Redelinghuys said.
“So, it’s about an 80-minute performance, and to function in all the areas. What we’ve seen is that some of the parts of the game, we do well in certain games, and the next week, it’s different.
“We love our backs! We saw some great things from them last week, where they actually created lots of opportunities, and the drive this weekend is to just finish and turn pressure into points.”
Front-ranker Ruan Dreyer added that the Lions players had a meeting this week and committed to playing for each other, despite the off-field issues.
“This is actually a good challenge for us. We actually had a good meeting and come-together yesterday as players. We set ourselves the goal to just make this about the players and team going forward,” the former Bok prop said.
“This is a massive challenge – Glasgow is fifth on the log – so for us now, it’s just to focus game by game and get the best out of every game, and go forward.”
Lions team: 15 Quan Horn 14 Rabz Maxwane 13 Manuel Rass 12 Marius Louw (captain) 11 Edwill van der Merwe 10 Gianni Lombard 9 Sanele Nohamba 8 Francke Horn 7 Emmanuel Tshituka 6 Jaco Kriel 5 Ruben Schoeman 4 Ruan Venter 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye 2 PJ Botha 1 JP Smith.
Replacements: 16 Morné Brandon 17 Rhynardt Rijnsburger 18 Ruan Dreyer 19 Ruan Delport 20 Ruhan Straeuli 21 Morné van den Berg 22 Rynhardt Jonker 23 Andries Coetzee.