Mitchell: Butch's defence key
Butch James (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - The Lions know the Waratahs will offer a sterner test than the Brumbies and that is why they will approach Saturday's Super Rugby match in Sydney differently.
Coach John Mitchell said on Thursday that the inclusion of flyhalf Butch James and centre Doppies la Grange could be decisive in the clash at the Sydney Football Stadium.
"The Waratahs are tougher opponents and our defence has to be good. Experience also played a part and we are going into this match with probably the most experienced side we could select," said Mitchell.
The inclusion of experienced players such as James and La Grange led to the dropping of Elton Jantjies and Dylan des Fountain.
"We know the Waratahs are a clinical side that will focus on our set phases. Their record on defence is also very good. It will be our task to try and frustrate them," the Lions coach explained his team's approach.
If the Lions are able to prevent the Waratahs from executing their game plan, the frustration may lead to over-eagerness and mistakes.
Mitchell said that his team was positive, but not necessarily because of the 29-20 win over the Brumbies.
"It (the attitude) has been good all along. We just worked for one another at the weekend and focused on our strengths. We did the little things right. But this weekend it's a different matter altogether."
Mitchell wants his team to command respect and knows you don't just get it in this tournament.
He said that he was impressed by Jantjies' performance at flyhalf against the Brumbies, but that James's defence could be crucial against the Waratahs.
"It's good to see that Elton has his confidence back," said Mitchell.
Meanwhile, the Waratahs are under pressure from their supporters to play more exciting rugby. A match against the bottom-of-the-table Lions is seen as a chance to "put it right".
15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Ryan Cross, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Sosene Anesi, 10 Berrick Barnes, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 4 Dean Mumm (captain), 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson
Substitutes: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Al Baxter, 18 Kane Douglas, 19 Hugh Perrett, 20 Brendan McKibbin, 21 Daniel Halangahu, 22 Tom Kingston
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Alwyn Hollenbach, 12 Doppies la Grange (captain), 11 Deon van Rensburg, 10 Butch James, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Warren Whiteley, 19 Cobus Grobbelaar, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Dylan Des Fountain