Targeting a game against defending champions the Crusaders hardly seems the ideal opportunity to bounce back in Super Rugby but those are the cards the Lions have been dealt.
The Lions returned on Monday from their unsuccessful, tiring trip to Buenos Aires where they were smashed 49-35 by the Jaguares and duly given the day off by coach Swys de Bruin.
The Lions will resume training on Tuesday and will announce the team on Thursday afternoon for the game on Sunday.
Licking their wounds after conceding six tries, defence has been highlighted as the major source of concern.
Aphiwe Dyantyi, the 23-year-old winger who’s taken the tournament by storm, will have to re-start his campaign.
Team management on Tuesday confirmed their new gem will be six weeks on sidelines due to a shoulder injury.
It exacerbates the Lions’ crisis at wing but Ruan Combrinck is slated for a return early next month.
Having scored 34 tries in their six matches, the Lions have also conceded 26, and in their last three matches against the Blues, Sunwolves and Jaguares the Lions have scored 16 tries but have alarmingly conceded the same number.
The Blues and the Sunwolves each scored five times against them and the Jaguares six, but defence coach Joey Mongalo can’t be held solely responsible.
“We were slightly disappointed like in the Blues game because we made one or two soft mistakes in the first half on defence,” said Mongalo.
“But as a team we always said we will address those issues and the thought has always been that we’d be okay in the second half,” he said.
Defeats in their next two matches – against the Crusaders and the Stormers – are almost unthinkable for a team like the Lions who have always maintained a high win ratio, but in such an event they could be overtaken at the top of the SA Conference by the Stormers.
“As a team we will always be keen to keep the ball more, that was always the plan, to see how much ball we can keep,” said Mongalo.
“But when we turn the ball over we must make sure we stay connected and make sure we get the ball back so we can play again.”