Bring on the pres­sure, says con­fi­dent Rhule

Business Day - - SPORT -

Ray­mond Rhule’s se­lec­tion ahead of the Lions’ can­non­booted right-wing Ruan Com­brinck has been con­tentious, es­pe­cially with the star­ring role the lat­ter played in get­ting the Lions to the Su­per Rugby fi­nal, writes Khany­iso Tsh­waku.

Com­brinck made an in­stant im­pact af­ter re­cov­er­ing from in­jury but Rhule has shown the ben­e­fits of play­ing in a bet­ter and more con­fi­dent team.

At the Chee­tahs, Rhule looked bereft of con­fi­dence and that showed in his de­fence.

As a col­lec­tive, the Chee­tahs went on hol­i­day when tack­ling, which partly ex­plained the hid­ings they copped against New Zealand Su­per Rugby out­fits. Rhule could be seen as a weak link with Lions wing Court­nall Skosan but the All Blacks back three, de­spite their coun­ter­at­tack­ing ex­cel­lence, are no great shakes in de­fence ei­ther.

The back three are also in­ex­pe­ri­enced with none of the play­ers pos­sess­ing more than 10 Test caps, some­thing Rhule be­lieves lev­els the play­ing field in a big way.

“I feel both back threes have played quite a lot of rugby. With this be­ing Test rugby, the pres­sures are higher,” Rhule said.

“I’m a player that thrives un­der pres­sure. I en­joy the chal­lenge and I en­joy the pres­sure more when the game be­comes a dog­fight.

“Dig­ging deep makes me en­joy the game even more than win­ning by 50. When you see a tough en­counter like this com­ing ahead, I en­joy such sit­u­a­tions,” the winger said.

Rieko Ioane has set the rugby scene alight with his seam­less re­place­ment of Ju­lian Savea.

Savea’s ab­sence along with that of Vaea Fi­fita would come as a re­lief to those who do not have faith in Rhule’s de­fen­sive ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Rhule has a huge amount of re­spect for his fast op­po­nents in what will be a bat­tle of out-and­out pace mer­chants.

“You try not to un­der­es­ti­mate the op­po­si­tion and peo­ple will want to tar­get Damian McKen­zie say­ing that he’s not good un­der the high ball or what­ever they could say be­cause he’s a bit smaller. From what I’ve seen, he al­ways rises to the oc­ca­sion. You don’t want to shoot your­self in the foot by un­der­es­ti­mat­ing him,” Rhule said.

“If you want to be the best, you have to play against the best. I would have loved for Vaea to play,” he added.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.