Mitchell ready for challenge

2012-03-30 14:17

Johannesburg - Playing the Crusaders is a prospect most teams would loathe, but it is a challenge Lions coach John Mitchell looks forward to ahead of his side's clash against the New Zealand giants in Johannesburg on Saturday.

“I’ve had success against them, I guess, and also I’ve coached a fair amount of them when I was All Blacks coach,” Mitchell said on Friday.

“So I have a pretty good idea of how the players function, and how the culture has continued regardless of the transition of people.”

The Lions mentor would have taken note of how the Cheetahs nearly beat the most successful side in Super Rugby history last week.

The seven-time champions and last year’s runners-up have had a stuttering start to their campaign, winning two of their four matches.

The Crusaders, however, are a wily bunch, never to be underestimated, and Mitchell said he had immense respect for the tourists.

“They are an exceptional outfit. They have set the benchmark along with the Bulls in this competition since its inception and you’ve got to realise they do actually have great capability,” Mitchell said.

“But in saying that, it is not something we over-focus on.

"We haven’t played them for two years, and we are excited to have them at home.”

The Lions coach made one change to their starting XV on Friday.

Alwyn Hollenbach replaced Doppies la Grange - who was ruled out for 12 weeks due to injury - in the midfield.

The hosts, having suffered a plethora of injures, also welcomed back flyhalf Elton Jantjies who joined Lionel Mapoe (also returning from injury) on the bench.

The return of both key players could signal their upsurge in the competition after they won only one of their five matches this year.

“We’ve been transparent about the when the injury situation occurred but at no stage have we made any excuses or any explanations for the injuries,” Mitchell said.

“The team’s very consistent and we are very fortunate that Alwyn is coming back into number 12. He is experienced and a very good carrier.”

While most team’s would not hesitate to include a player like Jantjies in the run-on side, Mitchell showed consistency in his selection policy.

“It is very good to bring players back through the bench and at the end of the day they have got to earn their right back. Reputations mean nothing to us,” he said.

The Lions will also have to contend with the return of the Crusaders’ enigmatic flyhalf, Dan Carter.

Mitchell said it would be imperative for his side to pressurise the Crusaders’ forward pack if they wanted to force Carter to make mistakes.

“It is up to us as a team to put their forward pack under pressure so that we can get to nine and make Dan’s day a little bit more difficult."


Lions: 15. James Kamana, 14. Deon van Rensburg, 13. Jaco Taute, 12. Alwyn Hollenbach, 11. Andries Coetzee, 10. Butch James, 9. Tian Meyer, 8. Warren Whiteley, 7. Joshua Strauss (captain), 6. Derick Minnie, 5. Franco van der Merwe, 4. Marius Coetzer, 3. Patric Cilliers, 2. Callie Visagie, 1. Caylib Oosthuizen

Substitutes: 16. Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Stephan Greeff, 19 Cobus Grobbelaar, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Lionel Mapoe

15. Israel Dagg, 14. Sean Maitland, 13. Robert Fruean, 12. Tom Taylor, 11. Zac Guildford, 10. Dan Carter, 9. Andy Ellis, 8. Kieran Read (captain), 7. Matt Todd, 6. George Whitelock, 5. Sam Whitelock, 4. Luke Romano, 3. Owen Franks, 2. Corey Flynn, 1. Wyatt Crockett

Substitutes: 16. Quentin MacDonald, 17. Ben Franks, 18. Tom Donnelly, 19. Luke Whitelock, 20. Willi Heinz, 21. Ryan Crotty, 22. Tom Marshall


  • Bulldozer - 2012-03-30 14:24

    Ok sportsfans, goodluck to all the teams and their respective supporters (even the Stormers). I hope we have a weekend filled with good rugby and refereeing. I'll be at Newlands tomorrow evening, so I won't be commenting straight after the game, regardless of the result. Be safe. BULLE!!!

      Bulldozer - 2012-03-30 16:25

      Dankie Balsak, jy ook.

      Priester - 2012-03-30 17:18

      Balsak ek dink jy moet 'n pakkie chill pille ga suip, duidelik is jy besig om uitie bus te val! Sterkte my mater! Blou Bul Groete!

      Rich - 2012-03-30 17:25

      Okay bulldozer, we'll all be holding our breaths until we can read your comments.

      Lion - 2012-03-30 17:30

      Bulls Supporters... Good luck to you guys as well. The Bulls will make you proud and they will win this one. Stormers Supporters... And especially ISAK All the best you as well. I am afraid you are going to need all the moral support after this one. Now don't go home and beat up your wives after this game. It's not their fault. GO BULLS!!!!

      Bulldozer - 2012-03-30 17:52

      Rich, the only reason I said it, was because if the Bulls lose, everybody are going to ask where bigmouth Bulldozer is. Now this is just a reminder that I will not be able to comment right away. Dingbat.

      Rich - 2012-03-30 17:59

      Thanks for letting us all know that you won't be able to comment straight after the game big mouth.

      Bulldozer - 2012-03-30 18:08

      Pleasure. Now go lick.

      Rich - 2012-03-30 18:52

      Arrogance - an offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride.

      Bulldozer - 2012-03-30 19:04

      Don't be so hard on yourself, hobbit.

      Rich - 2012-03-30 19:10

      haha, enjoy your kickfest.

  • Jan - 2012-03-30 14:32

    It's going to be a great game to watch. If the Lions hold the Saders for 60 Mins whithout conceding "easy" points they will definitely take this one. Lions by 9 points

  • Leon - 2012-03-30 14:35

    Norrevok, sit vir Jantjies terug oppie veld. Butch jaag net k@/( an!

      Priester - 2012-03-30 17:16

      Eish Leon, sterkte man! Ek is 100% met julle hierrie game. Jammer julle konnie 'ie pasakke smeer nie! Blou Bul Groete!

      Lion - 2012-03-30 17:24

      Ek stem Leon... Daai perd het ons al duur te staan gekom. As Elton nie beseer was en die @@p in sy plek gespeel het nie sou die logs bietjie anders gelyk het. Maar nou ja dis seker maar hoe dit is en ek soek nie verskonings nie. Ek sien ons gaan dieselfde paadje met daai ou loop as wat ons met Earl geloop het destyds. Hoeveel stront moet hy nog aanjaag voor hulle hom eventually jaag? Go Lions!!!!

      Jacques - 2012-03-30 20:07

      Way to state an opinion. Very classy. (Actually not. I'm being sarcastic, see? ;))

  • Francois - 2012-03-30 15:42

    Blah Blah Blah and we still aiming for our target !!!!! winning the SA conference!

      Lion - 2012-03-30 17:26

      Francoistjie... We don't care about the stupid Conference Cup. We are currently the proud holders of the Currie Cup in our trophy cabinet. So... Piss Off!!!

  • Bennie - 2012-03-30 16:10

    Good luck to all SA Teams Go Lions, Bulls, Cheetahs and Sharks!!

  • Blou-Daan - 2012-03-30 18:20

    Sterkte Lions, sal vir julle duim vashou. Soos altyd staan die Bulle se ondersteuners weer agter julle.

      Lion - 2012-03-30 18:46

      Selfde vir jou Daan... Bulle gaan die Stormertjies VERPLETTER more my vriend. Ek support enigeits noord van die Vaalrivier. Al speel Sundowns teen die ander support ek hulle eerder. ConCup my gat man!!!! GO SPIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!! My Captain.

  • Johan - 2012-03-30 21:56

    "they are a exceptional outfit. They have set the benchmark along with the Bulls in this competition since its inception and you’ve got to realise they do actually have great capability,” Mitchell said. Spoken like a true master of the game!

      Dave - 2012-03-31 03:56

      There is no way you can put the Bulls anywhere near the class of the Crusaders. The Bulls haven't even one half as many titles as the Crusaders. The Bulls have a good home record because of altitude and that's all, they are crap on the road, especially in NZ (home of the undisputed world champions of all time).

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