Old hands don’t mask Lions’ flaws

The Citizen (KZN) - - Letters - Heinz Schenk

It’s dan­ger­ous in these con­strained eco­nomic times to be picky over ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers re­turn­ing to lo­cal Super Rugby fran­chises. In fact, by all ac­counts we can’t fairly say that any sign­ing made in this “cat­e­gory” (for want of a bet­ter word) has proven a fail­ure.

Schalk Brits and Duane Ver­meulen were both hits at Lof­tus in 2019, and this sea­son Morne Steyn and Juan­dre Kruger de­liv­ered en­cour­ag­ing show­ings in last week­end’s opener.

Welsh leg­end Jamie Roberts also didn’t look out of place at New­lands.

So it’s then with ea­ger an­tic­i­pa­tion that we await Willem Al­berts and Jaco Kriel run­ning out onto El­lis Park’s hal­lowed turf.

How­ever, Kriel won’t be seen un­til at least April and burly Al­berts is only slated for a re­turn next week.

In some ways, Al­berts’ man­age­ment is com­fort­ing be­cause it sug­gests the Lions aren’t skimp­ing on their top-class con­di­tion­ing regime just to get the for­mer Bok flanker back onto the pitch.

He will, of course, be joined by vet­eran Bok prop Jan­nie du Plessis.

But, to be re­ally hon­est, I have reser­va­tions over how the Lions have re­cruited in that re­gard.

Per­haps the gen­eral neg­a­tiv­ity sur­round­ing the man­age­ment in­trigue – it was re­vealed last week that the Lions is­sued com­mu­ni­ca­tion to Su­perS­port say­ing they would not al­low in­ter­views with the squad if for­mer coach Swys de Bruin was con­duct­ing them.

De Bruin is in the em­ploy of a broad­caster as an an­a­lyst.

Ques­tion marks are hang­ing over the Lions’ “pro­mote-in­ter­nally-at-all-costs” pol­icy when it comes to their coach­ing staff.

This is no un­der­dog fran­chise any­more ... the Lions made three fi­nals in suc­ces­sion.

They might be in transition, but is that a rea­son not to at least ex­plore the pos­si­bil­ity of a higher pro­file head coach tak­ing over?

Which bring us back to the vet­er­ans re­turn­ing.

Was the 38-8 thrash­ing at the hands of the Jaguares a blip on the radar?

Of does it point to struc­tural de­fi­cien­cies in the team’s coach­ing?

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