Ross Roche
Senior sports writer
2 minute read
9 Apr 2022
1:09 pm

New challenge for upbeat Lions — a wet-weather game against Sharks

Ross Roche

The Lions have played well in recent weeks in dry conditions on the highveld, so they'll be tested in Durban.

Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen is expecting very different conditions in Durban for the match against the Sharks to what his team have been used to in Joburg in recent weeks. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

The Lions are fully prepared for unfriendly conditions when they take on the Sharks in their United Rugby Championship clash at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday (kick-off 4.05pm).

Having enjoyed a dry four weeks on the Highveld, where they have been able to play their entertaining, high tempo brand of rugby, the Lions are now ready for what is expected to be a forward driven wet weather battle against the Sharks.

“I think what we’ve seen and what we’ve heard is that it’s going to be quite wet. So that in itself means we won’t be able to play at the same tempo as at altitude back home,” admitted Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen.

“But intensity and physicality is still possible, so I think it’s going to be a very intense and physical game. I think both teams will pride themselves on that.

“Our pack of forwards has done really well the last four games, they have grown in confidence and have been very consistent. But the Sharks are a very good set piece team, their scrum has been good and they often go to their maul, so we have to match them in that.”

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The Lions are missing a number of key players, with Burger Odendaal and Jaco Visagie out for a second game in a row after they were close Covid contacts and have to follow return to play protocols.

Prop Carlu Sadie is another observing return to play protocols after he suffered concussion symptoms in the Lions’ win over Edinburgh, which has opened the door for veteran former Bok Jannie du Plessis to step up against his former team.

“Jannie hasn’t played a URC game in a while, but he has played in the Currie Cup and he has been training well. He is very keen to get a go, when you play at his age you know you don’t have too long in your career left,” said Van Rooyen.

“So he is chomping at the bit and going back to his former team he is excited and looking forward to the challenge of coming up against a very good Sharks front row.”