Johannesburg - The return of Martin Muller for the Lions' Super Rugby clash against the Brumbies has Lions coach Johan Ackermann feeling more positive about their fortunes in the lineouts.
Muller last played for the Lions at the end of March in Brisbane when he suffered a tear to his calf in their win over the Reds, their final tour match.
The Lions lost five lineouts off their own throw-ins against the Highlanders, while they also have the second lowest success rate in the competition (79 per cent).
The Lions second-row combination of Muller and Franco Mostert will have their work cut out for them as they face the most successful lineout team in this season's competition.
The Brumbies are boasting a 91 per cent success rate in the set piece.
Ackermann said his side have paid special attention to their lineout work in training this week in preparation for an onslaught from the Australian conference leaders.
"This week we’ve put in extra sessions in the lineouts and hopefully those small pieces will come together on Saturday," said Ackermann.
"If you look at the lineouts that we lost, it has been a small detail on the lift or half-a-foot over the throw.
"It is crucial because if you take the stats, the Brumbies are number one in contesting (lineouts) and in getting their own ball."
Ackermann said the return of Muller has strengthened their stocks at lock while he also brought other key attributes to the side.
"Martin has always been in the mix before he had his injury and he worked his way back (into the team) through the Vodacom Cup," he said.
"So now we have the depth there which allows me to refresh the others.
"Martin has the ability to assist Sous (Mostert) with the lineouts and if Mostert is not on the field he (Muller) can make the calls."
Ackermann said flank Robert Kruger, who replaces Warwick Tecklenburg in the run-on side, would give them another lineout option.
Muller said the Lions have brought in a few more variations during their lineout sessions while making minor adjustments.
"We've worked on a few small things which has been key, where the throw was maybe right, but the lift wasn't or vice versa," Muller said.
"We've worked pretty hard on that, because we know the Brumbies are really good in that department."
Muller said the Lions faced an intelligent Brumbies side that like to take the ball through phases of play.
"You've got to defend well and keep to your structures," he said.
"On defence we're going to have to work hard because we know we are not going break them down on the first phase (of play), because they are a strong defensive unit."
He said that it was clear from the Brumbies' close encounter against the Stormers in Cape Town, that they made a point of fronting up physically against the South African teams.
"I think that's what they did and it won't be any different this week," Muller said.
15. Andries Coetzee, 14. Lionel Mapoe, 13. Harold Vorster, 12. Alwyn Hollenbach, 11. Ruan Combrinck, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Faf de Klerk, 8. Warren Whiteley (captain), 7. Robert Kruger, 6. Jaco Kriel, 5. Franco Mostert, 4. Martin Muller, 3. Julian Redelinghuys, 2. Robbie Coetzee, 1. Schalk van der Merwe
Substitutes: 16. Armand van der Merwe, 17. Jacques van Rooyen, 18. Ruan Dreyer, 19. MB Lusaseni, 20. Warwick Tecklenburg, 21. Ross Cronje, 22. Jaco van der Walt, 23. Howard Mnisi
15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Nic White, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 Allan Alaalatoa
Substitutes: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 JP Smith, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Jordan Smiler, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 James Dargaville, 23 Robbie Coleman