Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Lions back-up forward brigade getting their shot on tough tour

The Lions players will also have to come to grips with playing on an artificial 4G pitch as quickly as possible.

The Lions back-up brigade will be getting a chance to shine on a tough European tour, starting with a huge United Rugby Championship (URC) clash against Munster in Cork on Friday night (kick-off 9:30pm).

The front row battle will be of particular interest with the Lions missing regular starters Ruan Dreyer and Sti Sithole, who are unavailable for the tour through injury.

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This has seen Asenathi Ntlabakanye get an extended run in the starting side, while Morgan Naude got a chance off the bench against the Stormers last weekend and he will get further opportunities to impress on tour.

“What’s lekker is that if someone misses out, there’s always someone ready to come in. These guys train really hard and keep fit and it’s tough as a player when you don’t play. So when these guys finally get their chance you feel like they are finally getting a shot,” explained Lions scrum coach Julian Redelinghuys.

“So it’s been good to see Ase standing up at tighthead and growing each week, and Morgan coming off the bench last week at loosehead and getting his chance.

“It’s great when you have senior props in the squad for these guys to learn from and now they get the game time which is what will make them even better.

“Playing against Munster in Ireland is a great test for the guys. The Munster pack has done well recently. So it’s going to be a massive challenge and we all know that you don’t grow when it’s easy, you grow when it’s tough. So that’s going to be great for the guys to get better and better.”

4G pitch

The Lions players will also have to come to grips with playing on an artificial 4G pitch as quickly as possible, with the entire squad is playing at Musgrave Park for the first time, which will be a new experience for them all.

“It’s something we don’t have (artificial pitch) in South Africa and the guys do struggle a bit more on them. So it’s something we need to get used to, but at least you know the pitch will always be in good condition,” said Redelinghuys.

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