Johannesburg - No 8 Warren Whiteley says the Lions’ scheduled matches in Argentina and Japan have created more excitement among the players in the squad.
Fans will witness a new-look Super Rugby tournament this season, with teams from Argentina and Japan included in the mix. Los Jaguares and the Sunwolves are set to provide unique challenges. The Southern Kings, South Africa’s Eastern Cape franchise that competed in a memorable campaign in 2013, complete the 18-team competition.
The Lions will face the Sunwolves in their tournament opener in Tokyo, Japan on February 27, and they will also compete against Los Jaguares in Buenos Aires, Argentina on July 16.
Whiteley said his team-mates are excited to face these new challenges.
“There are many unknowns ahead of this year’s Super Rugby season, which creates plenty of excitement. This is why Super Rugby is the most exciting rugby tournament in the world and we are privileged to travel to different parts of the world to face some of the best players in the world rugby,” Whiteley told MyPlayers.
“For most of our players, it will be their first time playing rugby in Japan and Argentina. We will need to rely on the experience of those who have played in these regions before. Guys like Elton Jantjies, Lionel Mapoe and Warwick Tecklenburg, who play for Japanese clubs, will give us insight into the Japanese game and conditions. I believe it will be very cold during our tour to the Far East, so we will need to be well-prepared if we want a good start to the tournament.
“Our match in Argentina will be another interesting encounter. Coach Akkers (Johan Ackermann) has experience of playing there before, while a few Springboks and former Junior Springboks have toured to South America too. This will be vital during our preparations. We know the Jaguares will play an attacking brand of rugby.”
The Lions returned to training last week Thursday. The team’s pre-season training has been affected by the heatwave that hit South Africa in January, which has forced a few schedule changes.
“The heat has been a problem in Johannesburg, so we have started practice earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon. This has made a positive difference,” explained Whiteley.
“The guys have returned refreshed after a good break from rugby. We are looking forward to building on the success we achieved last season. We want to improve week by week during Super Rugby.”
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