For pro­vin­cial pride

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By CAL­LUM TOWNSEND

The Hur­ri­canes’ hor­ror run this sea­son will not put off a promis­ing Welling­ton Lions side, new coach An­dre Bell has promised.

Hur­ri­canes play­ers were ex­cited to re­turn to the Lions, Bell said, as a mat­ter of pro­vin­cial pride.

He had spo­ken to all the Hur­ri­canes crossovers, and ex­pected them to lead by ex­am­ple.

The star-stud­ded Hur­ri­canes’ camp was fraught with prob­lems this sea­son and coach Mark Ham­mett told All Blacks Ma’a Nonu and Andrew Hore they would not be re­quired in 2012.

The team failed to reach the Su­per play-offs.

Bell said the team cul­ture was dif­fer­ent in a fran­chise, be­cause play­ers were drawn from a wider pool. Be­ing a Welling­ton side was an ad­van­tage in cre­at­ing a bet­ter at­mos­phere in the Lions camp.

‘‘It’s about the en­vi­ron­ment you cre­ate. If you cre­ate a re­ally open en­vi­ron­ment . . . you’re go­ing to get the best out of ev­ery­body,’’ said Bell.

He was con­fi­dent the Lions squad had a range of emerg­ing play­ers to draw on. The team will be bol­stered by the re­cent last­minute away vic­tory against the Manawatu Tur­bos.

The re­sult was a real pos­i­tive for a side that in­cluded many young, in­ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers, Bell said.

Par­tic­u­lar names to watch for were ris­ing academy play­ers Reg Goodes and Jeff Allen, and Joe Latta and Chris­tian Lloyd also earned hon­ourable men­tions.

The lack of ball in the Tur­bos game was a worry for Bell, but he was happy the Lions’ de­fence re­sponded to the chal­lenge. It was the Lions’ first win against the Tur­bos in the past four at­tempts.

It is ques­tion­able how much of an ad­van­tage play­ing at the sta­dium will be for the Lions.

The sta­dium has be­come a fortress for the Phoenix foot­ball team, but Bell said many teams in the ITM Cup had no trou­ble win­ning away from home.

Al­though the Lions were de­ter­mined to per­form in Welling­ton, the home ad­van­tage could be a dou­ble-edged sword, he said.

‘‘[There is] a lot more pres­sure when you’re at home; you’re ex­pected to win.’’

Bell ap­peared con­fi­dent the Lions would be strong con­tenders for this year’s ti­tle.

Bell is en­ter­ing his first full sea­son as coach af­ter tak­ing over from Jamie Joseph last Au­gust.

The Lions reached the semi­fi­nals in 2010 and lost 51-47 to Can­ter­bury.

Welling­ton’s first na­tional cham­pi­onship match this sea­son is on July 16, against Taranaki at Yarrow Sta­dium, New Ply­mouth.

Photo: FAIR­FAX

In charge: Coach An­dre Bell is di­rect­ing op­er­a­tions for Welling­ton this sea­son.

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