Former head coach Swys de Bruin had this to say when approached on the prospects of the Lions’ Super Rugby campaign this year: “Rebuilding? What rebuilding?”
De Bruin, who was succeeded by Cash van Rooyen ahead of the 2020 season, believes the team could benefit from the building blocks which were put in place last year.
“I don’t think they are rebuilding any more this year. I think that already happened last year,” De Bruin said in the build-up to the Lions’ Superhero Sunday warm-up match against the Bulls this weekend.
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“Furthermore, they have added names like Jannie du Plessis, Willem Alberts, Dan Kriel, Andre Warner and Roelof Smit, so I believe they will have the right mix of youth and experience.”
The limited number of Lions players in the Springboks’ World Cup squad last season could also work in their favour, De Bruin feels.
“I think they only really had Malcolm Marx, Elton Jantjies and Kwagga Smith, with Aphiwe Dyantyi and Warren Whiteley ruled out of contention,” he said.
“Like in 2015, it could prove beneficial and allow Cash the opportunity to build continuity and cohesion within his squad.
Cash van Rooyen. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
“In the time of me and Ackers (former Lions coach Johan Ackermann) Cash was also more than just a background conditioning coach. He was very involved with the planning process and game plans.”
Though Whiteley could lend a hand as a consultant, with his playing days still uncertain, De Bruin believes the coaching group had sufficient experience.
“Cash is in his seventh year, my son Neil (de Bruin, backline coach) in his fifth and Philip (Lemmer, forwards coach) is in his third year, so they will be boosted by the experience they have gained.”
De Bruin, who retired from his post after taking the Lions to their third straight Super Rugby final in 2018, said he had plenty to keep him busy following his departure.
“One still has to put food on the table, so once a week I’m at the Kings as a consultant, but I don’t accompany them when they travel overseas for the Pro14,” he said.
“I’m also working part-time with SuperSport.
“We went to the Sharks on Monday where it was great to share ideas with the coaches over there and hear their views.
“But on Sunday I’ll be watching the action on television,” added De Bruin.
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