Vodacom Super Rugby
Kamana's ban a blessing?
Johannesburg - Although they missed the flair only a Sevens players could provide in the 15-man code, the three week suspension of Lions fullback James Kamana for a dangerous tackle on Cheetahs centre Robert Ebersohn, was to his, and the team’s advantage.
This was the view of Lions coach John Mitchell who welcomed the Kiwi speedster back into his squad ahead of Saturday’s Super Rugby contest against The Sharks in Durban.
"There has been one positive to the sanction and that is that he’s had the ability to become very fit," Mitchell said after admitting Kamana had not been part of the Johannesburg side’s pre-season preparations.
Kamana’s return is one of three changes the New Zealand-born coach made to his side after last week’s 30-25 loss to the Reds.
In the other two changes, Derick Minnie returns in place of Cobus Grobbelaar while George Earle was given the nod ahead of David Bulbring.
Bulbring and Grobbelaar were included in the Golden Lions’ Vodacom Cup team for their match against the SWD Eagles in George on Friday.
For the first time this year, Mitchell opted to include a specialist lock in David de Villiers on his bench.
"We decided to strengthen our lineout and one of the key things that have come out of our reviews is that we need to read the space in the lineout a lot better and actually go to it and be more ambitious," said Mitchell.
"If we can actually control possession, as you’ve seen, we are a very dangerous football team," he added.
Another addition to the Lions squad this week was former Springbok Braam van Straaten who had been approached to help this team as their kicking consultant.
"We managed to get Braam in on a short-term basis today and tomorrow and we’ll look to create a program before we go on tour," Mitchell said of the newest addition to his coaching staff.
"Then we will look to employ someone no different to Balie Swart who does our scrummaging on a full-time consultancy basis."
Looking ahead to the difficult task of securing a victory in the Shark Tank, Lions skipper Doppies la Grange said his job in motivating the men was an easy one.
"One of the biggest challenges for any captain is to keep the side positive, but that has been the least of our problems this week," said La Grange.
"The guys have had a very positive mindset and there is a great vibe at training at the moment."