Lions on the prowl for first ever Super Rugby win over the Hurricanes on New Zealand soil
Lions coach Swys de Bruin hopes an urgent examination of his team’s intensity and ball protection will help them record a first ever Super Rugby win over the Hurricanes on New Zealand soil on Saturday.
Those were areas in which the Lions were found wanting in their surprise defeat at the hands of the Reds in Brisbane last weekend‚ and they are now under pressure to win at least one of their two remaining matches on their Australasian tour against the Hurricanes and the Highlanders in Dunedin next week.
“We have to work on various aspects in which we didn’t perform well in that first half‚" said De Bruin.
"We have worked on our intensity‚ our ball carries and how we protect the carrier.
"We also worked on our decision making. We didn’t convert our opportunities against the Reds.
“The Hurricanes have a strong presence in the rucks with (Ardi) Savea and Co.
"They make every ruck ugly. We will have to be clinical in our possession – how to win the ball and keep it.”
The problem for the Lions is they have to show rapid improvement‚ and then some.
They have an appalling record against the Hurricanes having beaten the Wellington based side on only four occasions since 1996.
In their most recent meeting however‚ the Lions downed the Hurricanes thanks to a stirring second half performance in last year’s semi-final at Ellis Park.
On Saturday however‚ the Lions return to the venue where they were blown off the park in wet and blustery conditions in the 2016 final.
“We are not out to settle scores‚” De Bruin set the record straight.
“From day one we’ve handled this as part of a process. There is no revenge. It is just another away game.
“The Hurricanes are a strong team. That is why they’ve done so well on their home turf. That’s exactly why we have to focus on ourselves. If we focus on them we won’t get the desired result. The plan is to stay with our process‚” explained De Bruin.
The coach confirmed that centre Lionel Mapoe has been restored to fitness and is eligible for selection this weekend.