Lions boss Kevin de Klerk will fly to New Zealand next week in the hope that he can help coach Dick Muir salvage a sinking ship, but he told Rugby 365′s Jan De Koning - in an exclusive interview – that no heads would roll as a result of his visit.
Speaking to rugby365.com after the Lions team’s record 12-73 loss to the Waratahs in Sydney on Friday, De Klerk – the Golden Lions Rugby Union President – revealed that he would join up with the team in Christchurch next week ahead of the final leg of their marathon five-match tour.
However, he dismissed the notion that the time had come for some drastic measures – despite the latest stream of records being scored against the under-performing Lions franchise this season.
It is the second time this year that they have conceded more than 70 points – 72 against the Chiefs in Week Two and 73 on Friday; giving them a total amount of 228 points conceded in just five games.
At the same time, the Lions have now conceded 29 tries – an average of six tries per game.
Against the Chiefs there was some measure of pride in the record loss – as the Lions also scored nine tries in an 18-try feast.
In Sydney, on Friday, the Waratahs racked up the following records in their one-sided romp:
* Drew Mitchell scored four tries – the most tries in a game by a Waratahs player in Super Rugby
* Berrick Barnes kicked nine conversions – the most conversions in a game by a Waratahs player in Super Rugby
* The 73 points the ‘Tahs scored are the most points in a game by the Waratahs in a Super Rugby match
* The 61-point winning margin is the highest in a game by the ‘Tahs in Super Rugby
* The 11 tries are also the most team tries in a game by the ‘Tahs in Super Rugby
* The nine conversions are the most team conversions in a game by the ‘Tahs Super Rugby
Despite all this, De Klerk put up a brave front and said he would be flying to New Zealand, ahead of the games against the Crusaders and Highlanders, to “provide moral support” and see how he could possibly help the team.
“Let’s not take anything away from the Waratahs, they played very well,” an obviously disappointed De Klerk told rugby365.com on Friday.
The Lions boss admitted that “the wheels fell off” in Sydney and he will see how he can help when he gets there.
“I am planning to join the team in Christchurch to get a better idea of what is happening [in the squad],” he said.
He dismissed the suggestion of “crisis talks” and “emergency meetings”, but admitted that something urgently needs to be done to help the ailing team.
Much like the ‘ambulance job’ the late Kitch Christy became famous for with the Springbok team of the mid-1990s, De Klerk said he wanted to see where he could, possibly, be of help.
He stressed, however, that nobody would be fired or axed. “It is far too early for something as drastic as that,” he said, adding: “I am going to give my support to the team.
“We must remember that we have the Bok backline coach and if anybody can fix this, it will be Dick Muir.”
The Lions boss admitted that the team’s form took a dramatic slump in the last fortnight, despite coach Dick Muir’s promise that there would be a “steady improvement” as the season progresses.
“We must accept that this is a very tough tour ,” he said of a tour that will see them cross the Tasman Sea thee times.
They flew from South Africa, via Australia and across the Tasman, to play the Hurricanes. They then headed back to Australia to play the Brumbies and ‘Tahs, and will now cross the Tasman again to complete the five-week venture against the Crusaders and Highlanders.
“The Sharks and ourselves have a similar trip and we both are finding ourselves at the wrong end of the table,” De Klerk said.
“I think better times will come when we return home,” he said of a schedule that will see them play four of their last six matches in Johannesburg.
He admitted that some of the combinations are not gelling yet, but also described the team as their “own worst enemies”.
“We play into the opposition’s hands – like Carlos Spencer’s chip-kick into the lock’s hands that handed the Waratahs a try,” he said.
He also admitted that some of the team’s basics were not on par at present. “We are making poor judgment calls, like not getting the ball into touch when we are under pressure. Also, our attack was not as good as it has been in the earlier rounds.
“It is as if the team has dropped off the pace in the last two weeks, after a very admirable start. In the first three weeks I felt we were playing a decent game, but in the last two we dropped off the pace.”
He also dismissed that the signing of All Black Carlos Spencer, at great cost, has been a waste of money.
“He has played only two and a bit games for us,” De Klerk said.
“We still haven’t found each other yet, but he is a player of great skill. Maybe his type of game and our game are not gelling yet, but it can’t get worse, it can only improve. He [Spencer] has immense talent.”
He conceded that their all-out attacking game was leaving them vulnerable on defence, but is supporting coach Dick Muir’s drive to continue playing an attractive brand of rugby.
“Yes, if you start playing an attacking game, your chances of scoring tries improve, but so does the risk of conceding tries. But you want to produce attractive rugby.”
At the same time, however, De Klerk admitted that winning was more important than just running around scoring tries.
“There is no doubt, it all revolves around winning and we have to start introducing the winning factor into the picture,” he said, adding that nobody felt the pain of defeat more acutely than he did.
“I can guarantee you that I feel the pain,” he concluded.Tweet