Van Rooyen won't change 'Lions' DNA'
Van Rooyen was yesterday named the Lions’ new head coach following the parting of ways between the union and Swys de Bruin a few weeks ago.
The 37-year-old Van Rooyen, who was previously the Lions’ strength and conditioning coach, took charge of the Currie Cup side in 2018 and this year. He led a young Lions team to the final this season, where they lost to the Cheetahs.
“The Lions have a certain DNA, a style of rugby that they play, and it would be foolish to change that,” said the new Lions boss.
“But, if you look at what’s been going on in world rugby and what’s gone down at the World Cup, aspects like the levels of defence and the effectiveness of a good kicking game are things we will have to adopt and be better at. The reality is there are so many different areas where a team can apply pressure on the opposition and we need to explore all those options.”
Van Rooyen said he was starting his reign with a “blank canvas”.
“We’ll use the Currie Cup campaign as a stepping stone and a platform for what we want to do going into next year, but we’ll focus to grow a number of aspects of our game; that is the conditioning, the attack, the defence and the kicking,” said Van Rooyen.
“We must get creative. This is a new generation coming through and I’d like us to be as efficient as we can be.”
Van Rooyen said he and the Lions Company were still in the process of finalising his management team. “I’ll know more in the next week or so. But the exciting thing with the coaching system changing is that there will be an opportunity for us to specialise in more areas and get consultants in to make us better.”
Van Rooyen has built up a good relationship with the players, having joined the Lions in 2009 and worked closely with most of the players for several years now. “I just want to continue building on the relationship we’ve formed. We’ve got a couple of new players coming in, who’ve already slotted in nicely, but we’ll look to keep growing the youngsters like Tyrone Green, Wandisile Simelane, Vincent Tshituka and others next year.”
One player who’s sadly yet to start the proper pre-season programme is seasoned captain and No 8 Warren Whiteley, who’s still trying to get over the knee injury that ended his hopes of playing at this year’s World Cup. “He can’t train just yet,” said Van Rooyen.
“so he’s working on getting fit and is also still learning the coaching ropes and doing analysis work for us.”