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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Lions look to Springboks for inspiration as they look to break URC duck against Scarlets

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The Lions are taking some inspiration from the Springboks’ World Cup heroics as they bid to end a three-game losing start to the season when they travel to Wales for a tour match against the Scarlets.

The Lions have been their own worst enemies as they have been in positions to win all three of those games before going down to the Stormers (33-35), Edinburgh (16-17) and Benetton (10-15).

“If you look at the Boks, we saw what one point can mean as they got through the quarters, semis, and the final,” said scrum coach Julian Redelinghuys.

“We have been on the other side of that scenario, the margins are so small. The big thing for us is that our attitude is right. If you play rugby to not lose, you will lose more often than not but if you go out to attack to win, the opposite will apply,” the former tighthead prop said.

“I can’t question the guys’ desperation to win, their work rate, or intent to dominate,” Redelinghuys continued. “We just have to sharpen up and have better clarification of what we need to do in specific areas of the field, and at what times.”

The beefy Redelinghuys joked that the “W” is so close he can almost taste it while the tubby fellow sitting next to him in the media conference, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, smiled as if a juicy burger was being described.

“We are not far off from getting to the other side of the W,” the coach said.

“I would not say we have targeted the Scarlets to turn our season around – I think whoever we were playing this weekend we would feel the same — but we would love to travel to Ulster next week with some momentum and confidence.

“It is tough to win in Ireland but nobody is unbeatable and the more difficult the game, the higher our guys step up.”

But first they have to beat the Scarlets and, as always against Welsh opposition, the Lions fancy their chances of gaining ascendancy in the scrums.

“The fortunate thing with the Scarlets is that they (have) one of those 4G pitches, which is a hybrid between grass and whatever the heck that artificial stuff is,” Redelinghuys said, smiling. “The main thing is it is lekker for scrumming because the surface stays true.

“This last weekend in Italy, you might have noticed that the grass gives way when it is under pressure but the pitch this weekend gives us an opportunity to dominate.”

The roly-poly Asenathi said the players had to shoulder responsibility for the defeats and for turning things around.

“The gold zone (opposition 22) has been a big focus for us. Against Benetton we had seven entries and could score only 10 points,” he lamented.

“That is not good enough and we as players have to find a way to capitalise and get the ball over the line. The boys will do that. We have a huge belief we can turn it around.”

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Meanwhile, the Lions have called up JP Smith and Ruhan

Straeuli to join the tour. Loosehead prop Morgan Naude and Darrien Landsberg are the latest players to be added to the already long injury list.

Naude injured his shoulder against Benetton on Sunday and is set to undergo surgery. The 25-yearold could be out for up to 12 weeks.

IOL Sport

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