robdylan

Spotlight: Lions


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Lions, Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 20 Jan 2017 at 11:59
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

As we prepare for Super Rugby 2017, much of the early talk about the Sharks’ prospects has focused on their benign draw; facing only Australian team this year (not Kiwi’s like last year) and enjoying a short 2-match tour should be contributing factors to a better finish than last year’s 8th place. My concern with this is that one major local obstacle remains for the Sharks and they, too, will only be playing Australian foes this season.

The Lions topped the Africa 2 conference very comfortably last year and had it not been for a late brain-fart, could and probably should have topped the overall table too. While it’s true that they took some big hidings from Kiwi teams during the regular season, they were well nigh untouchable against other opposition over the course of a gruelling season and there really has to be very little reason not to expect more of the same in 2017. Same team, same coach, same approach, but with a better draw and ostensibly easier opponents, who would sensibly bet against at least another top 2 finish for the Lions?

The Sharks, in 2016, did relatively well to stay with the Lions for much of the season, but fell off badly towards the end, ultimately ending up 9 log points behind them. Perhaps more tellingly, the Durbanites were well beaten on both occasions the two played each other and despite both enjoying indifferent Currie Cup seasons, the final game of 2016 again proved that, even at their weakest, the Lions are still significantly stronger than the Sharks. That difference is something the Sharks are going to have to overturn in order to enjoy an improved 2017 and I would argue that the home match against the Lions (taking place on 15 July, quite late in the season) is already a must-win game for them.

This then begs the question – is there really any reason for much hope, or is a Lions conference win already a fait accompli? Ever the optimist – at least at the start of the season – I’m actually rather confident that we might see a couple of things going our way this year.

For one thing, the Lions have lost a hugely important and influential player in Julian Redelinghuys, who will not play at all this season after breaking his neck in the Currie Cup. Redelinghuys is a mainstay in their pack and while they do boast other props of similar ability, it’s the leadership role that they’re most going to miss. Another key prop, strong young Dylan Smith, will also miss the first month of action and they may well find that the formidable scrum on which so much of last year’s success was built is no longer a given for them.

Another factor is the large foreign contingent joining the Lions late in pre-season. Unlike in years gone by, the unwanted side effect of the Lions’ success is that far more of their players have picked up lucrative Japanese deals. These players will return to the squad in the next week or so, but have missed all of the vital early pre-season conditioning work on which a good campaign is built and the chances are good that more than a few of them are suffering from either patent or latent injuries caused by too much rugby. Add to that a larger-than-normal list of Bok tourists and one feels that the Lions squad that assembles this year will not be as fresh as the one they called on in 2016.

The Sharks, in contrast, have very few players in their mix who have not been around for all of pre-season. There are no Japanese imports in their squad this year and Kobus van Wyk has already returned from France. In fact, it’s only really Thomas du Toit who’s missing, while only Pat Lambie, Beast Mtawarira and Jean-Luc du Preez joined up late due to Bok tour commitments. For the Lions, Franco Mostert, Jaco Kriel, Warwick Tecklenburg, Warren Whiteley, Elton Jantjies, Lionel Mapoe and Andries Ferreira, key players all, have yet to return from overseas clubs. All in all, the Sharks really have no excuse not to be better prepared, as a squad, for this year’s tournament than the Lions.

The big unknown, of course, but one that affects the chances of both the teams, is the performance of los Jaguares. Undoubtedly the flops of the 2016 tournament, the Argentine side have the manpower to perform significantly better in 2017 and should they figure out how Super Rugby works, all of the above could end up being just so many words.



63 Comments

  • nice article rob, good points.

    I’m super amped for the season and even more excited to play fantasy league

    how about we start a sharks world pool ?

  • Comment 1, posted at 20.01.17 12:29:09 by revolverocelot Reply
    Team captain
     
  • It will be very interesting to see how the Lions and their opponents adapt in 2017. Can they continue to evolve will be the question and can teams shut down their running game. For the Sharks to be more successful it really hinges on two things…their unforced error count and their penalty count as those two things have killed off the sharks in recent years

  • Comment 2, posted at 20.01.17 13:03:13 by SheldonK Reply
    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • Interesting article Rob.

    I think the Jaguares are going to be a much bigger factor in our conference this year with a much easier travelling schedule than last year when they seldom played more than two consecutive games on the same continent. This year they have a stretch of three games and another of five games at home with their tours to SA (2 and 3 games) and Australia (3 games) well spaced.

    For the Lions to improve on last year is going to be tough and they will have to work on playing a more balanced game and to overcome the rush defence they struggled with last year, a tactic opponents will be sure to try.

    It will be interesting to see the impact Robert du Preez has now that he has full responsibility for the Sharks.

  • Comment 3, posted at 20.01.17 13:19:53 by Baylion Reply
    BaylionSuper Rugby player
     
  • @Baylion (Comment 3) : Will be interesting to see the attitude etc adopted by the Jaguares this year. I have a feeling we could see them keeping their big names in Argentina only and on tour sending out the plebs.

  • Comment 4, posted at 20.01.17 13:31:44 by SheldonK Reply
    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 4) : well, the only way is up for them.

  • Comment 5, posted at 20.01.17 13:32:28 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
     
  • @Baylion (Comment 3) : Very curious to see how Rob du Preez approaches this year’s SR now that he’s head coach. Hopefully (along with the Teichmann), this is the coaching & managing team that sticks. God knows at this point we probably need continuity worse than we need silverware.

  • Comment 6, posted at 20.01.17 13:57:35 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    vanmartinAssistant coach
     
  • The Jaguares were such a flop last year I had totally forgotten about them and they will surely have the potential to top this group.

  • Comment 7, posted at 20.01.17 14:04:44 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the SubtleAssistant coach
     
  • So are we still in a building phase or not? Now where is Gary Gold when I need him to answer that question.

  • Comment 8, posted at 20.01.17 14:06:04 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the SubtleAssistant coach
     
  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 8) : Kings Park stadium def needs to be in a building phase…bout to fall down

  • Comment 9, posted at 20.01.17 14:13:32 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 8) : You’re not going to like the answer I suspect but new CEO and new coach probably means new direction and vision.

  • Comment 10, posted at 20.01.17 14:19:20 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    vanmartinAssistant coach
     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 9) : Ah good, we can use our surplus players as maintenance crew.

    I wish they would just bite the bullet and play the friendly against the Cheetahs at MM, just to get a feel of what it could be like for players and fans alike.

    I wish the same thing for the Stormers and the Cpt stadium too.

  • Comment 11, posted at 20.01.17 14:22:15 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the SubtleAssistant coach
     
  • @vanmartin (Comment 10) : which means a new building phase? yes / no? The team though is largely settled and that must be a huge positive.

  • Comment 12, posted at 20.01.17 14:24:40 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the SubtleAssistant coach
     
  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 12) : I can’t claim to have any special insight but I’d venture a guess that there’s probably some kind of initiative we would classify as rebuilding on the go at the union unless they’re happy with Smit and Gold’s plan and just continuing on with that. Seems unlikely though.

    Positives are a largely settled team with the majority able to put in a full preseason, not a huge amount of injuries we’re aware of and the fact that Rob was involved in last season’s coaching even though he wasn’t calling the shots.

  • Comment 13, posted at 20.01.17 14:31:08 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    vanmartinAssistant coach
     
  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 11) : They should make use of the cheap labour at the academy to do repairs etc. Not all those guys will make it so may as well get use to laying bricks etc

  • Comment 14, posted at 20.01.17 14:31:27 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @vanmartin (Comment 13) : You are right, its basically a new setup but at least they have been around for a couple of months.

    Anyway I think that we, and all other SA teams, must just get used to being a constant state of rebuilding with any players making an impact getting offers they cant refuse and moving on.

  • Comment 15, posted at 20.01.17 14:51:58 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the SubtleAssistant coach
     
  • A factor that may impact on the Lions is their transformation targets. They took some flack last year because they are behind the required target. Some recruitment has been done to address this (Sti Sithole and Marvin Orie for example) but I expect the pressure to mount this year

  • Comment 16, posted at 20.01.17 15:09:17 by Baylion Reply

    BaylionSuper Rugby player
     
  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 15) : I probably wouldnt say rebuilding but more along the lines of realigning our approach to the game.

  • Comment 17, posted at 20.01.17 15:09:23 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • Lions biggest obstacle is that unlike last year when the squad consisted of a whole lot of unknown nobodies, everybody on an equal footing, not a single Bok in the squad, they start this year with a lot of Bok Players.
    Last year the team played with a single purpose to prove they belonged.This year they go in as favorites.
    Normally the international exposure leads to swollen egos,Now whether Ackerman can contain those egos is what will decide their season.
    looking at a few guys like Combrink and Faf, for example,I think the fun and games have already started.

  • Comment 18, posted at 20.01.17 15:11:09 by The hound Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    The houndAssistant coach
     
  • @The hound (Comment 18) : You do make a good point. I do still hope they have a good season though as the more SA teams playing well bodes well for the Boks

  • Comment 19, posted at 20.01.17 15:20:55 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 19) : There are also too many players there, they have three excellent hookers,each of them capable of starting in most Super Rugby teams.

  • Comment 20, posted at 20.01.17 15:34:28 by The hound Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    The houndAssistant coach
     
  • @The hound (Comment 20) : 3? Marx, Coetzee and? But yeh you right..players very willing to share game time when they a no name…but when a Bok and wanting to keep their place they wont be as accommodating to rotation for the sake of it

  • Comment 21, posted at 20.01.17 15:53:10 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 21) : The angry warthog

  • Comment 22, posted at 20.01.17 17:21:14 by The hound Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    The houndAssistant coach
     
  • Worth mentioning is also what effect our kicking coach will have. Last year’s kicking was not to great…

  • Comment 23, posted at 20.01.17 18:12:15 by coolfusion Reply

    coolfusionTeam captain
     
  • @The hound (Comment 22) : Fantastic player

  • Comment 24, posted at 23.01.17 08:35:39 by Bump Reply

    BumpSuper Rugby player
     
  • @The hound (Comment 22) : Ah yes of course. Great point you make then

  • Comment 25, posted at 23.01.17 08:45:58 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @The hound (Comment 18) : That will definitely be a factor in their minds as well as their players potentially playing for the Boks during the June international break risking injury and further fatigue from an already long season. It will be interesting to see how they cope with that as the majority of Bok players have come from the Bulls, WP and Sharks over the past few years before.

    @coolfusion (Comment 23) : Did we get in a new kicking coach?

  • Comment 26, posted at 23.01.17 09:39:05 by Quintin Reply

    QuintinSuper Rugby player
     
  • @Quintin (Comment 26) : If I remember correctly Braam van Straaten is helping the Sharks

    Edit: Check this link
    http://www.sharksworld.co.za/2016/11/02/sharks-bring-in-van-straaten-zondagh/

  • Comment 27, posted at 23.01.17 09:43:05 by Uli Boelie Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
    Uli BoelieTeam captain
     
  • Lions have three very good hookers who scrum well and have a high work rate/fantastic ball skills.

    Coetzee is the only one of the three who can regularly hit a barn door at lineout time, though.

  • Comment 28, posted at 23.01.17 09:49:16 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
     
  • @Uli Boelie (Comment 27) : Thanks I cleary missed that article! That’s great news though especially in regards to having a specialist skills coach and we know what Braam can do, good on RdP to get these guys involved.

  • Comment 29, posted at 23.01.17 09:54:59 by Quintin Reply

    QuintinSuper Rugby player
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 28) : Robbie Coetzee is very under rated…pity he got injured when called up to a Bok camp a while ago.

  • Comment 30, posted at 23.01.17 10:21:19 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @Uli Boelie (Comment 27) : @Quintin (Comment 29) : I cant remember seeing Van Straaten in any of the training photos though…although i may have missed him or the camera did

  • Comment 31, posted at 23.01.17 10:22:09 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 28) : It would be great if we could distribute our talent more or less evenly between the major clubs for quality players to get more exposure to top level rugby but then again, with the SR campaign being so long you probably might use 3 hookers if you’re a bit unlucky with injuries.

    Did anyone notice the players in the European Rugby Champions Cup do not look like they are in the best form physically? From what I’ve seen a lot of guys(not all) look a bit overweight.

  • Comment 32, posted at 23.01.17 14:51:10 by Quintin Reply

    QuintinSuper Rugby player
     
  • I feel a large part of the Lions success has been team continuity. Now with their stars being called up to the boks and Japanese deals keeping a number of important players away from pre-season training it’ll be interesting to see if the team can gel and continue to play the way they did last year.

  • Comment 33, posted at 23.01.17 17:13:38 by Hulk Reply

    HulkSuper Rugby player
     
  • Going to be a hard year but I think the Sharks might just surprise a couple of teams.

  • Comment 34, posted at 23.01.17 21:26:10 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    JDAssistant coach
     
  • @Hulk (Comment 33) : I agree with you on the continuity of their team, it’s been one of the main reasons they did so well in the CC and then carried that continuity and form over to SR. I hope we can have something similar this season. We were severely disrupted last year with injuries and our schedule didn’t help at all, we need some luck to go our way this year.

  • Comment 35, posted at 24.01.17 08:57:00 by Quintin Reply

    QuintinSuper Rugby player
     
  • So what would a full strength Lions team look like this tear… 1. Smith 2. Marx 3. Dreyer 4. Ackermann 4. Mostert 6. Kwagga 7. Kriel 8. Whiteley 9. De Klerk 10. Jantjies 11. Skosan 12. Van Rensburg 13. Mapoe 14. Volminck 14. Combrinck…that sound about right?

  • Comment 36, posted at 24.01.17 09:00:33 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 36) : Kwagga will probably play off the bench with 6. Kriel, 7. Tecklenburg. 4 will be either Andries Ferreira or Lourens Erasmus and Combrinck will be 14 with Coetzee at 15.

  • Comment 37, posted at 24.01.17 09:21:11 by Baylion Reply

    BaylionSuper Rugby player
     
  • @Baylion (Comment 37) : Must admit i think my combo is stronger. WHo is the no.2 flyhalf there…still Jaco VD Walt?

  • Comment 38, posted at 24.01.17 09:27:24 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • Lions 2017 Depth (excluding any outside the normal range coming through)

    1. Dylan Smith (injured), Jacques van Rooyen, Corne Fourie, Sti Sithole
    2. Robbie Coetzee, Malcolm Marx, Akker van der Merwe
    3. Ruan Dreyer, Pieter Scholtz, Justin Ackerman, Clinton Theron
    4. Andries Ferreira, Lourens Erasmus
    5. Franco Mostert, Marvin Orie, Bobbie de Wee
    6. Jaco Kriel, Kwagga Smith
    7. Warwick Tecklenburg, Cyle Brink, Ruan Ackerman
    8 Warren Whiteley, Fabian Booysen
    9. Faf de Klerk, Ross Cronje, Dillon Smit, Marco Jansen van Vuren
    10. Elton Jantjies, Jaco van der Walt, Ashlon Davids
    11. Courtnall Skosan, Anthony Volminck
    12. Rohan Jansen van Rensburg, Howard Mnisi, Harold Vorster, Jacques Nel, Gerhard van der Walt
    13. Lionel Mapoe, (any of the 12s)
    14. Ruan Combrinck (injured), Koch Marx
    15. Andries Coetzee, Sylvian Mahuza

  • Comment 39, posted at 24.01.17 09:27:42 by Baylion Reply

    BaylionSuper Rugby player
     
  • @Baylion (Comment 39) : Bit thin at 3 and 10 but all others seem to be covered very well. Sti Sithole…have heard the name a few times but havnt watched him play- you reckon he can cut it or still learning?

  • Comment 40, posted at 24.01.17 09:49:24 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • scratch Tecklenberg from all those lineups….. looks a bit less rosy now

  • Comment 41, posted at 24.01.17 09:49:49 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 41) : Saw that now. Big loss, he was a real work horse

  • Comment 42, posted at 24.01.17 09:50:54 by Baylion Reply

    BaylionSuper Rugby player
     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 40) : I don’t know much about him, played for the Kings last year and but some WP guys give him good reviews, came through the WP junior ranks

  • Comment 43, posted at 24.01.17 09:54:51 by Baylion Reply

    BaylionSuper Rugby player
     
  • @Baylion (Comment 43) : Was he schooled in the Cape? As you say ive heard a few things but havnt watched much. Tecklenberg is a loss but think guys like Kwagga and Ackermann will fill that gap as both good players…Ackermann could be a Danie Roussouw

  • Comment 44, posted at 24.01.17 10:00:13 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @Baylion (Comment 43) : Sti looks a pretty handy prop to me.

  • Comment 45, posted at 24.01.17 10:11:32 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 44) : Sithole was at Westville. Durbs boytjie

  • Comment 46, posted at 24.01.17 10:12:01 by Baylion Reply

    BaylionSuper Rugby player
     
  • @Baylion (Comment 46) : Ah ok no wonder ive heard the name a lot. Interested to see how he progresses then. Could be tough to make the Lions team though. Suppose same could be same of Majola at the sharks, another westville boy

  • Comment 47, posted at 24.01.17 10:15:16 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 47) : The Lions have some transformation targets to reach and with Dylan smith out until March he has an opportunity to step up. I’ve never been overly impressed with Jacques van rooyen and corne fourie as scrummers

  • Comment 48, posted at 24.01.17 10:18:35 by Baylion Reply

    BaylionSuper Rugby player
     
  • @Baylion (Comment 48) : I would agree on your last point there.

  • Comment 49, posted at 24.01.17 10:33:11 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @Baylion (Comment 48) : we need to stop using the “T” word. Not disputing your argument or questioning your motives, but the reality is we can’t talk about it here.

  • Comment 50, posted at 24.01.17 14:22:23 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
     
  • Sharks are very much in the same position that the Lions were last year.Lots of excellent unexposed players, and good senior players with no huge egos.
    Coaching team is similar too hardworking coaches with playing credentials, who have been there.
    No flashy second hand car salesmen, we have a good chance this year.

  • Comment 51, posted at 24.01.17 14:45:59 by The hound Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    The houndAssistant coach
     
  • @robdylan (Comment 50) : Sorry about that. Only mentioned it as the Lions took some flack about it last year. Won’t do that again

  • Comment 52, posted at 24.01.17 14:48:48 by Baylion Reply

    BaylionSuper Rugby player
     
  • @Baylion (Comment 52) : Yeah, some people embrace it wholeheartedly, others fear it, yet others feel so strongly about it they are willing to march about……the T word is a thing of power, whether you are for it or against it, it can become all consuming. Shhhhh you are not to say the T word here, but as Rob is out of office I feel brave and will mention it here, just once…….Trump.

  • Comment 53, posted at 24.01.17 15:05:59 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the SubtleAssistant coach
     
  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 53) : :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

  • Comment 54, posted at 24.01.17 16:29:57 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling SongTeam captain
     
  • @Baylion (Comment 52) : thanks bud. No stress

  • Comment 55, posted at 24.01.17 16:42:31 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
     
  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 53) : dick :)

  • Comment 56, posted at 24.01.17 16:42:43 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
     
  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 53) : Trump may yet decide to make America great again by declaring a world series of rugby. In which only US clubs play (like thwir baseball) and thus eliminate the possibility of less than great results.

  • Comment 57, posted at 24.01.17 18:19:07 by coolfusion Reply

    coolfusionTeam captain
     
  • Lions XV squad for the warm-ups against the Bulls in Harare on Saturday:
    Le Roux Baard, Ruan Brits, Jean-Luc Cilliers, Ashlon Davids, Bobby de Wee, Hacjivah Dyamani, JP du Preez, Dean Gordon, Wiehan Jacobs, Marco Janse van Vuren, Pieter Jansen, Kyle Kruger, Gerrie Labuschagne, Jan-Louis Le Grange, Koch Marx, Siya Masuku, Stean Pienaar, Jarryd Sage, Pieter Scholtz, Victor Sekekete, Bheki Shongwe, Sthi Sithole, Adré Smit, Wayne van der Bank, Morne van den Berg, Gerdus van der Walt, Jano Venter, Jaco Willemse.

    Mostly from last year’s juniors and some of the new recruits

  • Comment 58, posted at 25.01.17 07:02:49 by Baylion Reply

    BaylionSuper Rugby player
     
  • Gerrie Labuschagne is the kid who put over a 80m kick in practice a few years ago

  • Comment 59, posted at 25.01.17 07:05:02 by Baylion Reply

    BaylionSuper Rugby player
     
  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 53) : @Culling Song (Comment 54) : @robdylan (Comment 56) : still can’t believe he’s the US president!?!?! How the hell did that happen!?!?!? 2016 a very strange year indeed!!!!

  • Comment 60, posted at 25.01.17 07:11:21 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    JDAssistant coach
     
  • @coolfusion (Comment 57) : hahaha almost like Miss Universe where all winners are from only one planet! Match fixing!?!?!? ;-)

  • Comment 61, posted at 25.01.17 07:14:53 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    JDAssistant coach
     
  • @JD (Comment 60) : How did it happen…same way Brexit happened. People underestimated the hate people have for others that are different and not from ‘their country’.

  • Comment 62, posted at 25.01.17 08:27:01 by SheldonK Reply

    SheldonKAssistant coach
     
  • @SheldonK (Comment 62) : ja boet sad but true!!!

  • Comment 63, posted at 25.01.17 13:57:00 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    JDAssistant coach
     

Add Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.