The Star Early Edition
Skipper believes Lions will turn the corner soon
IT has not been the best of starts for the Lions in the Rainbow Cup but new skipper Dan Kriel believes his young team are on the verge of turning the corner, starting with Saturday’s match against the Stormers.
The Lions have played two, lost two, having gone down narrowly to the Bulls, and most recently the Sharks. Those losses have been the result of poor starts in which the Lions failed to defend their line, missed too many one-on-one tackles, and generally seemed lethargic, especially in the first 30 minutes of each encounter.
Kriel agrees, but the captain remains positive about the systems and direction the team is moving in.
“There is no excuse. We have had two not so great starts against the Bulls and the Sharks,” Kriel told Independent Media yesterday.
“It’s got nothing to do with our training, we train really hard, and if we can do it in training, then we are 100% capable of doing it on game day. The positive thing is that there is no lack of effort, which is great.
“We are really still proud of the boys. We are a young squad, which is not an excuse, but I definitely believe that we are going to come together and we will be looking back smiling very soon.”
Those opening moments have been costly to the Lions, and missing tackles more so. In their opener against the Bulls, the Lions missed 24 tackles, while against the Sharks it was 22. The Joburgers did manage to tighten up as each game progressed, but by that time the damage had been done and they were chasing the game.
Kriel, 27, believes these costly errors were down to individual inaccuracies, which the team is working hard on to rectify as a desperate Stormers side lie in wait at Emirates Airline Park (1.30pm kickoff).
Despite these failings, there is no escaping the assuredness Kriel exudes.
“I believe sometimes less is more and we are trying as players to do a bit too much and we sort of forget our roles, and unfortunately that is where that first silly try was leaked against the Bulls and the Sharks,” Kriel explained.
“Our system here is incredible, our plans here are world class. We have a world class management and group, so we are just looking forward to stringing a full 80-minute performance together this weekend.
“One concern is to obviously score points when given the opportunity,” Kriel added.
“That is vital for any team … I thought we struggled a bit against the Sharks. They were down one yellow card, and we were in their 22 for about eight minutes; they got two yellow cards then and we still didn’t walk away with points. It is just something that we sort of have to zoom in on and focus in on.
“We need to be in the moment.” On a personal level, Kriel says he is content with his form and where his game is at, but also insisted that there is always room to improve.
“I think if you are content as a player, you are definitely doing something wrong,” said the inside centre.
“I’m happy with my performances but there’s obviously a lot that I can work on. I’m hoping I can get better and better with more game time. There’s a lot to work on. I’d like to distribute a bit more, but otherwise I am really happy with where I am as a player and an individual.”