Muir under no illusions

2010-01-07 09:49
Dick Muir (File)
Pieter Jordaan

Johannesburg – New Lions coach Dick Muir is under no illusions about the task ahead and says he and his coaching team will have to “make do with what they’ve got”.

He also didn't wish to say anything about All Black flyhalf acquisition Carlos Spencer as it is still the Lions’ “secret”.

If Spencer is not factored into the equation as he is not yet “officially” a Lion, their Super 14 training squad lacks star quality. Muir nevertheless believes the inexperienced squad can be molded into a tough unit before the start of the tournament.

One of the acquisitions seen at Coca-Cola Park on Wednesday was scrumhalf JP Joubert. That is in spite of his contractual dispute with the Cheetahs, who want to keep the 31-year-old scrumhalf in Bloemfontein.

Joubert’s arrival is important for the Lions as game-breaker Jano Vermaak has an injured ankle and is only likely to start training by the end of January.

Joubert is also still recovering from a knee injury.

“We’re confident that JP will be fit in time,” said Muir.

“Jano will not play in our warm-up games and may play a Vodacom Cup game before returning (to Super 14 rugby).”

The Lions’ training squad already consists of more than 50 players and Muir believes they are not yet in a position to be able to name a final group of 30.

“We’ll have to make do with what we’ve got and we wanted to look inside the Lions region. I believe the players can make the step to Super 14 rugby,” said the new director of coaching.

The two training games against the Bulls at Polokwane on January 30 will be followed by another training game against the Pumas, while the Cheetahs or Leopards may be added to the pre-season schedule.

Muir and his assistants, Johan Ackermann and Hans Coetzee, will certainly be out to give exposure to some promising young players.

New Lions Burton Francis, Marius Delport, Tonderai Chavhanga, Jonathan Mokuena, George Earle and Hanyani Shimange all trained on Wednesday.

Chavhanga is undergoing rehabilitation following his recent shoulder injury.

Another newcomer, Jacques Lombard (lock), as well as Johan Snyman (lock) and backline player Jody Rose are the other players who won’t recover from injury before the Super 14 starts.

Veterans Jannes Labuschagne (lock, 33) and Lawrence Sephaka (prop, 31) also trained with the Lions on Wednesday.

Together with Chavhanga, Henno Mentz (wing), Earl Rose (flyhalf) and Heinke van der Merwe (prop), the Lions have six Springboks in their ranks.

The Lions have also called on the help of visual coach Sherylle Calder, who has helped both South Africa and England to World Cup glory in the past.

Muir is also utilising the services of New Zealand conditioning coach Wayne Taylor.


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