McKenzie inspires Lions

2010-04-12 09:46

Pieter Jordaan

Johannesburg – “The Lions find themselves in a similar position to where the Reds were last year.”

With those words Reds coach Ewen McKenzie brought some comfort to the Lions after the Australian side beat them 41-26 at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday night.

Not even a return to their home ground could help the Lions finally get a victory in this year’s Super 14.

On top of that the Reds scored six tries as they recorded their second victory out of three games on their South African tour.

Muir’s first season as coach of the Lions has not been an improvement on what was achieved under previous coach Eugene Eloff.

Like Muir, McKenzie also took on his coaching job this year and has had to work with a relatively young and inexperienced team.

However, the Reds have surprised friend and foe alike with their form and are definite semifinal contenders.

McKenzie said he had spoken to Muir last week about the Lions’ current plight.

“You cannot make direct comparisons. We exposed our players to Super 14 rugby from a young age. There are young players coming through at the Lions and they have several players in the South Africa under-20 team,” said McKenzie.

“The challenge is to keep those players here. I think that can be achieved,” the former Wallaby prop added.

McKenzie agrees that it will not happen overnight, but believes that the new management under the presidency of Kevin de Klerk can make a difference. He also does not believe the players’ age is an important factor.

“I have coached more experienced teams than the Reds. The Lions are where we were last year. We also played exciting rugby then, but defence was a problem. That can be repaired. With some initiative on attack and better defence they can become a good team,” said McKenzie.

It was the Lions’ poor defence that again proved costly on Saturday night.

The Reds scored four tries inside the first 17 minutes, with wing Rod Davies bagging a brace.

Not even a spirited effort in the second half was enough to prevent a defeat.

“We’ll have to look at ourselves. We came back refreshed after a week’s rest and they scored four tries in the blink of an eye,” said Muir.
“We’ll have to get back on our feet for an important game against the Sharks. They would have drawn confidence from our performance (against the Reds).”

Muir said that the Lions would be appointing a defence coach soon.

“We wanted to appoint Ray Mordt in the pre-season, but decided to rather focus on other areas. We did not realise how we had fallen behind in terms of defence. It’s not the system, but individuals missing tackles,” he said.

Flyhalf Carlos Spencer is not performing well, but Muir will have to wait a few more weeks before Burton Francis has recovered from a stomach muscle injury.


  • dronkie - 2010-04-12 11:12

    Herkie Kruger at 10 and Henno Menz at 14 and your problem is solved

  • katman - 2010-04-12 11:29

    The Lions defense is basically a few blokes putting in half-hearted attempts at making contact with the attacking runner, but no real aggression or accuracy. Are they scared of proper contact? Don’t they have the heart for the fight? Are they poorly coached? Look at all the teams in the top half of the log. Whether they’re attacking or defending, there seems to be a belief that they will pull off the move. I WILL get through this half gap. He WILL NOT get past me. Bodies are put on the line. It’s bruising and hectic, but it pays off. The Bulls run and defend with real purpose. When they take contact, they don’t slow down or flail about. We need a few more blokes with lots of guts and very little fear. Wikus, Doppies, Jano and, occasionally, Tod Clever are fighting a lone battle here.

  • wade - 2010-04-12 11:49

    Tackling is either something you are prepared to do or not.For a 'proffessional" team to have a third of the personel not willing to tackle is a disgrace to themselves,the team and the supporters.That Dick Muir and the 'no brains' trust,only now are taking action to sort out the defence is a slap in the face of the few supporters who still give a toss about what is happening at Ellis Park.The Currie Cup team last season had one ot the best defences in the competition.The difference now is Dick Muirs' ridiculously romantic run at all costs game plan.Bring back Jake White to help the guy!!!

  • Gabba - 2010-04-12 11:54

    Henno Mentz @ 14? WHAT A JOKE. You dropped Earl Rose, now what is the problem now. I said it week after week. It is the whole team that is useless in defence not just Rose who is your last line of defence. The whole team,WITHOUT EARL ROSE TO BLAME THIS WEEK, gave away a four try bonus point in the 17th minute of the game. Do you really want to bring in useless Henno?

  • Dave - 2010-04-12 12:10

    Well, at least you anti Rose Lions dont have to blame Rose again for the lost. I wonder who you gonna blame now, maybe another coloured from Cape Town.

  • ant - 2010-04-12 12:21

    Where did the Lions find their left wing. His shocking.

  • dronkie - 2010-04-12 13:00

    Stop with this race in sports k@k: You no better then that vet vark Malema - I am a kleurling but when a player is not performing, then he is not performing - I have been defending Ricky and Rose from idiot critics who attck them personally but will not defend them from the oak who at least have half a brain to see that the chap is struggling...los daai us and them vir die dom eters whao cares - i care about rugby and seeing the boks win (at ALL cost) - die swart, wit en grys debat raak boring !!!

  • zim - 2010-04-12 13:50

    I though the problem was Chester Williams or Eugene Ellof or EARL ROSE!!!!!. Maybe the stadium must be renamed again :).

  • Ice - 2010-04-12 14:47

    All I can say is that the Lions and the Cheetahs played much better in the Super Rugby contest as 1 team (The Cats)... Since the split, they have both been shocking and always in competition for the wooden spoon. My suggestion is that SARU should reunite those 2 sides and introduce the Spears into the competition next year when Super 15 starts. At least that way our big provinces are represented in Super rugby and our players get the exposure at that level. Right now we are just embarrassing ourselves with the Lions and the Cheetahs and not reaping any rewards from it

  • Boerseun - 2010-04-12 15:18

    @Ice.You are right of course.Unfortunately the question of Homeground will surface.Bloem or Jo'Burg.That was the undoing of the Cats,no real home.

  • dronkie - 2010-04-12 15:50

    Tiger M(B/B) ,Lwazi Mvovo and Luzuko Vulindlu(sharks), Fabien J, Nick Coster(injured), Conrad Hofman, Conrad Janjes, Wylie Human and JJ engelbreght (stomers) Monty dumond, Guy Cronje, dylan des f, Frikkie welsh, Jilton loberts, pat cilliers and deon carstens are all benchwarmers with no game time this season - maybe they should go on loan to the struggling Lions and cheetah sides -

  • Hmmm - 2010-04-12 17:25

    The few player changes have improved the side (our points difference is a lot closer in the last two games than it has been before, this includes conceding a lot less). Killian is much better than Rose…Pekeur better than Chavanga…Venter better than Van Rensburg… We were actually at some stage Saturday only 8 points behind and actually outscored the Reds for that entire 40 minute period and looked the better team for most of it and was covering our inside line (where our defensive problem was in the early stages of the game). Mjekevu is useless, he is slow and the poorest player when it comes to physical contact I have ever seen (worse than Rose). Nontshinga was part of our squad in the early stages of the competition, why is he not given a chance? I must say although Pekeur is not setting the world alight, he did well on defense (crossed over a few times to make a final tackle) and looked strong when taking the ball up (and maybe a few jitters in making his few handling etc mistakes). Must say when I saw Delport running on I was unimpressed, but he surprised me in every way…when he kicked at least it was in the middle of the field or in the Reds half... Our scrum and Line-out are good…we even won a few Reds lineout’s…I rucks were not half bad either…we won more turnovers than they did…(Doppies should be a fetcher he stole 3 balls, most for a single player for both teams)…and we were able to hold onto the ball for many phases (although we did lose a few rucks cheaply, if we can keep up the intensity the whole game we would actually be well come ruck time)…the TEAM malls we do is a weird thing though!??!

  • Hmmm - 2010-04-12 17:29

    Oh and must say I don't think Spencer is playing all that badly...I mean the LIONS are scoring a lot of tries...way more than what they did last year...and it is no single player (a host of players scoring) so we need to give Spencer credit there....I mean he was influential in 2 of the tries we scored over the weekend with his backpass and stuff... He does make silly errors though...which he should work out...

  • The Voice of Reason - 2010-04-12 19:43

    Ice, you make a lot of sense, if only SARU would remerge the Lions and Cheetahs into the Cats. Then the Southern Kings could get SA's 5th spot. As for the Cats home games, there are 8 home games in the Super 15, spit it with 5 in JHB and 3 in Bloem?

  • Ronnie - 2010-04-13 01:13


  • Lion Heart - 2010-04-13 08:59

    Tha appointment of a defensive coach is a stop gap, what is needed is a move from Ellis Park, more professional management of player contracts and attracting international talent to help grow our youngsters. It only takes a quick look at the other S14 franchise to find how many great Lions players have left the union. Why not bring in Jerry Collins and a few others to bolster the squad and teach the youngsters?

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