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    Lions unfazed by dreaded drop

    2012-04-11 16:18

    Johannesburg - The Lions are unrattled by the danger of losing their Super Rugby slot to make way for the Southern Kings in next year’s competition.

    "It is a valid question, but that is not our game plan," coach John Mitchell told reporters here on Wednesday.

    "That is the administrators' game plan to play and they obviously have to be clever and play that smart."

    The Southern Kings are the only confirmed team for the 2013 competition, while the other four South African places have yet to be determined.

    The SA Rugby Union (SARU) and a delegation are due to have a meeting with SANZAR partners, Australia and New Zealand, to have discussions on a possible expansion of the competition.

    If SARU fails to come to an agreement with SANZAR, the remaining spot in the South African conference is likely to be decided by relegation.

    With the Lions at the bottom of the Super Rugby log at this early stage of the competition they are in serious jeopardy of losing their spot, if they do not turn the tables soon.

    "At the end of the day, all we have to do is continue to progress as an inexperienced Super Rugby side, so that is the only thing we can control," said Mitchell.

    "I don’t get involved in that stuff and it is certainly not part of our motivation, and as far I as am concerned it is negative motivation if you want to get into survival mode.

    "I have never had that philosophy and I never will; this side will continue to be ambitious and will look to grow."

    Meanwhile, Mitchell made six changes to his Super Rugby starting XV to play the Bulls at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday.

    Fullback Jaco Taute will move to outside centre in the place of Butch James, who moves to the bench with Andries Coetzee shifting from wing to fullback.

    Coetzee’s position will be filled by James Kamana, while Stephan Greeff will receive a starting berth at lock where he will replace the injured Paul Willemse.

    The other change to the forwards sees Callie Visage replacing Martin Bezuidenhout at hooker, who will join the replacements.

    Prop CJ van der Linde, who is bracketed with Jacobie Adriaanse on the bench, needs to pass a late fitness test.

    Mitchell said his charges still needed to learn about team work and patience after their 25-6 loss to the Cheetahs last weekend.

    "Unfortunately we have a group that has an average of 1.36 Super Rugby season average per person," said Mitchell.

    "We have 11 guys playing their first campaign, six playing their second and three guys playing their third.

    "So whether people like it or not, you have to be patient with this group because they are inexperienced."

    Teams:

    Lions:

    15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 James Kamana, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Joshua Strauss (captain), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.

    Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse / CJ van der Linde, 18 Marius Coetzer, 19 Christo le Roux, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Butch James, 22 Lionel Mapoe.

    Bulls:

    15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling

    Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Juandre Kruger, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 Johann Sadie

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