Super Rugby Preview: The Lions

The Lions are my team.

Not literally, they are mostly owned by a Russian businessman and a multi-millionaire ex golf caddy. A man intent on re-building the Lions to their former glories and an inspiration to golf caddies everywhere but I digress. the Lions are the team I support.

It has not been easy. They historically have had shocking defense, no definable game plan and rubbish coaches who constantly harp on about four-year cycles every year. Even the cheerleaders struggled to get excited about games.

This year, however, Lions fans across the country have hope. There is a new attitude and a new sponsor in MTN and besides the plus of the marginally funny joke of calling them the Mountain Lions, they now have loads of money, which will enable them to ‘Chelsea’ their way into winning ways.

Much has been spoken of their improved form and more attacking style of play in the Currie Cup and pre-season under former All Black coach, John Mitchell and rightly so. He has turned them into a far more impressive outfit. They are playing an attacking, almost kiwi style of rugby and this combined with a handful of quality new acquisitions are looking to improve on last year’s performance. Which shouldn’t be too hard, last year they did not win one game.

Into the squad comes Butch James, Lionel Mapoe, Bandise Maku, Andre Pretoors, Pat Cilliers, some kiwi wing I have never heard of (but he once played for the Crusaders, so he must be good) and Rory Kockott (previously irritating but now mostly likable, like a little dog that although fun to have around, keeps getting into fights with bigger dogs, leaving you with the vet bill). Staying on are the ever improving Elton Jantjies, Jaco Taute, Derrick Minnie and Michael Killian, not to mention the solid as ever Jano Vermaak and impressive Waylon Murray.

The Lions have a new-found ability to score tries and with an improved defensive system will more than likely cause some upsets this season. They have a new captain in Franco van der Merwe and are a team full of potential with nothing to lose. Expect them to be far more competitive than in previous years but realistically will be looking to build towards a strong Currie Cup and Super Rugby semi-finalist position next year.

Player to look out for: Doppies Le Grange. Very unlucky not to get a call up to the Bok squad last year and one of the most under rated centres in SA.

Prediction: Just missing out on a playoff spot.

Keep the faith my fellow fans, soon we will once again win games. Soooon.

Rennton

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~ by bowlphilosophy on February 16, 2011.

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