Vodacom Super 14
Muir looks to the future
Johannesburg – Lions coach Dick Muir will use his side’s last two Super 14 games to take stock of the talent at his disposal for a planned revival next year.
Muir will on Thursday name his side for Saturday’s Super 14 match against the Blues at Coca-Cola Park and has already indicated that he wants to give as many players as possible an opportunity to play.
The same applies to next weekend's game against the Cheetahs as not even two victories can save the Lions from the wooden spoon.
But for the players that are picked, these two games have a major influence on their futures at the Golden Lions.
With talk of several former Springboks currently plying their trade overseas being targeted by the Lions, competition for places could get tougher in the near future.
One of the positions is flyhalf where Muir wanted to give former Blue Bulls No 10 Burton Francis an opportunity this weekend.
Francis played well on the Lions’ tour of Australia and New Zealand before a stomach muscle injury forced him off the field.
He has subsequently been out of action and was a contender to play against the Blues before deciding on an operation.
Apart from Francis, there was no certainty on Wednesday whether JC Janse van Rensburg (prop, neck) and Franco van der Merwe (lock, back) would recover in time for Saturday’s match.
It is unlikely that Muir will risk them unnecessarily. However, the coach does not want to give greenhorns such as Jaco Taute (utility back) and Bernardo Botha (wing) a first start, even if the Lions have nothing to lose.
Even on their home field just about no-one is giving the Lions a chance. That is in spite of the fact that the Blues have lost to the Sharks and Cheetahs on their South African tour.
It’s been 10 years since the Blues have lost a Super rugby game in Johannesburg and the last time they played here they won 55-10.
That was in 2008, while the Lions have struggled even more than their predecessors in 2010.
Home support is also on the wane, with only about 5 100 spectators pitching for the game against the Western Force.
The rainy weather may have had something to do with that, but a big percentage of the crowd would have been disappointed by the performance and that they bought tickets.