Lions coach Eugene Eloff has predicted that the Lions will bounce back from two defeats in the Absa Currie Cup against the Vodacom Cheetahs this weekend.
Eloff defended recent losses to the Sharks and the Vodacom Blue Bulls, saying the youthfulness of his team was the reason for the poor results.
“We are a young team, with a new system of playing, so we are going to lose a few games. But when we get it together, we will be spectacular.”
Speaking to keo.co.za Eloff said: “I coach a 15-man brand of rugby and we are only now beginning to play the style I want.”
The Lions travel to Bloemfontein this Saturday to face a Cheetahs side whose confidence is high after big wins over the Griquas (55-14) and the Falcons ( 66-9). Cheetahs captain, Hendro Scholtz, speaking to keo.co.za earlier, warned that although the Lions have adopted a new expansive style of play, he saw it as “far too risky”.
Eloff however remains determined to take the Lions forward, and his decision to give young players, Heinke van der Merwe and Jean Deysel, their first run-on starts shows that he is not scared to offload some deadwood in order to do so.
“Heinke and Jean are both young players of the highest quality. I think it’s really exciting to see youngsters like this coming through and, I’m really looking forward to seeing how they perform,” he added.
Van der Merwe in particular should not be overawed by the occasion, having played for the Sharks in the Super 14 and impressing. Eloff believes both players will give his team an added dimension by the unique skills they possess.
“Heinke roves around the field and gets into some really good positions, he’s a great scrummager, strong and a good ball carrier. Jean is able to cover 6,7,8 and lock, and his speed allows him to get across the field to cover.”
Both the coach and players will surely feel the pressure of having not registered win in the tournament thus far. But according to Eloff, his team will stick to the same gameplan.
“Possession will be the key for us. As long as we hold on to the ball we can play the attacking brand of rugby I want to see.”
The game kicks off at 15.00.
By Ryan Vrede