New South Wales coach Ewen McKenzie has accused the Lions of subterfuge with the make-up of their team for the match at the Sydney Football Stadium.
Bret Harris writes for The Australian that McKenzie suspects the Lions team will not be the same as the side that has been announced.
The Lions have flown fullback Earl Rose and second-rower Cobus Grobler from Johannesburg to Sydney after Justin St Jerry (concussion) and Anton van Zyl (calf) were sent home.
While Rose and Grobler were not named in the Lions’ team, McKenzie expects them to be in the 22-man squad.
“We don’t think the team they have named is the team that’s going to play,” McKenzie said.
“We believe a couple of their seasoned players have come across. Cobus Grobler and Earl Rose have come across.
“I doubt they would fly them in if they weren’t going to include them in the 22.
“We expect them to have a more experienced team than they have named so we are preparing for a pretty big game.”
With the ladder highly congested between third and ninth positions, the fourth-placed Waratahs not only need to beat the Lions, but also secure a bonus point to enhance their chances of finishing in the top four.
Even though the Lions are the third-worst defensive team in the competition, scoring tries against them is not necessarily an easy thing to do.
Although the Lions have missed 200 first up tackles, they scramble well in defence, denying the opposition an easy passage to the tryline. In fact, the Lions have only conceded four tries or more in two of their six losses to the Blues and Crusaders.
Despite the potential of bonus points to separate the top four contenders at the end of the regular season, McKenzie said scoring four tries was not part of the Waratahs’ thinking.
“I’ve never spoken about bonus points,” McKenzie said.
“At some point it will become evident if that becomes a possibility. We set out to make sure we win. If an opportunity comes along, you do that as well, but that is a consequence of playing well. We’ll just focus on trying to play well.”
If the Waratahs are focused, they should beat the Lions comfortably, but if they are over-confident after their gutsy win against Western Force last Saturday and distracted by McKenzie’s Parisian soujorn during the week, they will be in danger of being beaten.
“We’ve been at that end of the comp so we know what it looks like,” McKenzie said.
“We understand you can be there, but not be far away from the action. We saw that only last week against the Crusaders. They (Lions) pushed them. They were leading at half-time.
“They have season goals and they still believe they can achieve those goals in terms of where they finish. It’s not a nice feeling when you lose back-to-back, particularly when you get close. They will feel if they can get a bit of luck, the wheel will turn for them.
“Most of the teams at the bottom of the comp will be looking to try and finish well. The Reds are obviously talking about that extensively.”
Meanwhile, McKenzie, who is fighting it out with former Bulls coach Heyneke Meyer to take over at the privately owned French club Stade Francais, has supported the ARU’s decision to open the four Super 14 teams to private equity.
“I think it’s a logical way to look at raising revenue and maybe other ways of functioning,” McKenzie said.
“Obviously, we have to get the package right, but it is definitely worth looking at”Tweet