Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer


Van Rooyen wants Lions to show early intent against Racing 92

"It is going to be important for us to be accurate this week in training and really start like a house on fire."


The Lions will be targeting a fast and accurate start to the match when they host French Giants Racing 92 in their massive European Challenge Cup (EPCR) last 16 clash at Ellis Park on Saturday afternoon.

Last week the Lions’ United Rugby Championship (URC) side continued to impress with a third win on the trot, beating Treviso in Italy, to head into the EPCR knockouts with plenty of momentum.

However, they suffered a very slow start against Benetton and had to recover from a 15-point deficit over the last 20 minutes to secure the win, and that is something they won’t want to do against Racing as it could cost them dearly.

READ MORE: Lions show character by digging deep in URC win over Benetton

“That last 20 minutes (against Benetton) we managed to turn it around and that is how we need to start against Racing,” said Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen.

“They are also going to be travelling (Lions back to SA from Italy and Racing from France), so it is going to be important for us to be accurate this week in training and really start like a house on fire against them to put them under pressure.

“It is important for us on Tuesday and Wednesday to be spot on, on what we want to do in terms of fix-its and how we want to play against Racing.

“But our last two weeks of preparations showed in the last 20 minutes (against Benetton) and that’s the one area we want to keep on working on and improving going into this weekend’s match.”

Three competitions

The Lions are in an unprecedented position at the moment, playing in three competitions concurrently with the URC, EPCR and Currie Cup.

Having the least depth of the four South African franchises, they have to be very careful of how they manage their players over the coming weeks.

ALSO READ: Champions and Challenge Cup competitions back with a bang

“This is the first time that all three competitions are running simultaneously. So it is important for us to get the balance of URC, EPCR and Currie Cup correct,” said Van Rooyen.

“We want to field the strongest possible team in all three competitions. So we don’t have the luxury of experimenting and we have been upfront to the players about that.

“Hopefully we are going to travel a fair bit over the next four to six weeks, which will mean that we are still alive in the competitions, so it will be important for us to keep it simple and get the guys as ready as we can for the games on Saturdays.”

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