How effective will the Lions lung-busting style be against South African opponents?

The Emirates Lions are looking to dominate their South African opponents in the Super Rugby Unlocked.
The Emirates Lions are looking to dominate their South African opponents in the Super Rugby Unlocked.
Image: THE EMIRATES LIONS/ TWITTER

The high tempo game that helped propel the Lions to three consecutive Super Rugby finals won't necessarily be fitted with brakes when they exclusively play local opposition over the coming months.

Lions' coach Ivan van Rooyen is keen to retain the lung-busting style when it is most effective in the thin air at Ellis Park‚ but he is as keen to see his team adapting to different styles in Super Rugby Unlocked.

Lions' coach Ivan van Rooyen is keen to retain the lung-busting style when it is most effective in the thin air at Ellis Park‚ but he is as keen to see his team adapting to different styles in Super Rugby Unlocked.

Half of your games will still be here at altitude. Half of your away games probably won't be soaking wet. Once we get where we need to play we will do analysis‚ but for me it is important for us to be adaptable

“You can get sucked into it both ways. Half of your games will still be here at altitude. Half of your away games probably won't be soaking wet. Once we get where we need to play we will do analysis‚ but for me it is important for us to be adaptable‚” said the coach.

The Lions looked inward and adopted the more fast-paced game with an accent on scoring tries following a 2014 defeat to the Chiefs in Hamilton.

They were made aware that they would go nowhere in the competition‚ especially against New Zealand sides if they continued with an overly pragmatic playing style.

They shot up the points table the following year and reached three consecutive finals from 2016.

Now Van Rooyen wants to expand their repertoire.

“We really worked hard the last four‚ five weeks to play the physical game if we have to and to go wide if we have to. Also to be able to play the kicking game. That is part of where we need to grow a little bit. I'm keen to see how we adapt to it‚” said Van Rooyen.

The competition draw has presented them some early challenges with their evolution put to a proper test when they meet the Sharks in Durban on Friday night. They will have to rough it up‚ up front and their kicking game will have to be on point.

“Our draw is similar to what we had at the start of Super Rugby. We played four away games in the first six weeks with a bye included. We start with two away and that is a great challenge.”

Once back home it is clear they will continue with their tried and tested playing style when they run out in front of their fans.

“We spoke about how we want to play‚ especially away from home‚ and at home what we want to represent.”


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