It’s like deja vu for Mat­field


NEW Li­ons re­cruit Vic­tor Mat­field said he was rel­ish­ing the op­por­tu­nity af­forded him to take charge of the for­wards dur­ing the Cur­rie Cup cam­paign.

The former Spring­bok lock takes over from the now de­parted head coach and for­wards guru Jo­han Ack­er­mann. Swys de Bruin was named as the new head coach a month ago.

Also new on the Li­ons’ Cur­rie Cup coach­ing team is Joey Mon­galo, who moves up from the ju­nior ranks, and will han­dle the team’s de­fence, while JP Fer­reira, the former de­fence coach, will now be in charge of the team’s at­tack­ing game.

This is Mat­field’s first full­time coach­ing ap­point­ment since he hung up his boots af­ter the 2015 World Cup. He is at this stage em­ployed as a for­wards con­sul­tant and will be at train­ing twice a week and on match days. VIC­TOR MAT­FIELD

“It’s like deja vu ... I re­mem­ber get­ting the call as a 21-year-old from Swys to join Gri­quas (around 1999) and now the call has come again. It felt right this time, too,” said Mat­field, widely re­garded as one of the best lock for­wards and li­ne­out op­er­a­tors in rugby his­tory. “The cul­ture here at the Li­ons is just fan­tas­tic and it’s a great op­por­tu­nity for me, a young coach, to learn a lot. The Li­ons have achieved a lot re­cently ... so hope­fully I can add some­thing to that.

“It seems like this is the next step in the right direction. I’ve only been here for two days but al­ready I can see the re­spect be­tween the play­ers and coaches, the healthy cul­ture and the work ethic on the field, the in­ten­sity in train­ing. I know it’s go­ing to be en­joy­able and hope­fully (af­ter the con­sul­tancy pe­riod) I’ll have a fu­ture here.”

New de­fence coach Mon­galo said he wanted to make sure there would be no more high­scor­ing thrillers in­volv­ing the Li­ons. So far in the Cur­rie Cup, matches have been char­ac­terised by plenty of tries be­ing scored with lit­tle em­pha­sis on de­fence.

“De­fence coaches hate thrillers ... you don’t want to see scores of 45-34. A team’s char­ac­ter is de­fined by its de­fence, so I’m hop­ing to build on what JP has put in place and en­sure there are no more thrillers,” he said.

“Ob­vi­ously we want to keep scor­ing tries, but we also have to limit the op­po­si­tion.”

The rest of the Li­ons’ coach­ing struc­ture is the same as the one that did duty in Su­per Rugby, un­der Ack­er­mann’s watch.

Mean­while, Li­ons chief ex­ec­u­tive Ru­dolf Straeuli con­firmed loose-for­ward Ruan Ack­er­mann has re­quested an early re­lease from his con­tract so he can join his father, Jo­han, at Gloucester in Eng­land. “No doc­u­ments have been signed, but he has re­quested a re­lease. It’s a fam­ily de­ci­sion be­cause they’re all go­ing ... so we’re look­ing into it,” said Straeuli.

The Li­ons are also con­sid­er­ing loan­ing some fringe play­ers to the Kings for the Pro14, which starts at the be­gin­ning of next month, ac­cord­ing to Straeuli.

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