Lions can be proud of their season - Mallett
Cape Town - Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett says the Lions can be proud of their effort in this year’s Super Rugby competition.
The Lions lost Saturday’s final 37-18 to the Crusaders in Christchurch.
Mallett was commenting on the game in the SuperSport studio where he gave credit to the Lions who entered the competition with a new head coach in Swys de Bruin after the departure of Johan Ackermann to Gloucester in England.
“The Lions can be really proud of their season. They had a lot of setbacks, leadership issues, injury issues to Warren (Whiteley) and (Malcolm) Marx and also a new coaching staff, losing a strong coaching group. To get through to the final was a great achievement even though it was aided and abetted by the (conference) system where they had a quarter-final and semi-final at home,” Mallett said.
Mallett said the Crusaders displayed their class by making better use of their opportunities.
“There is no question the Crusaders were the best team in the competition and that they deserved to win today. The Lions did extremely well to get 69% territory and 59% possession. But the secret - the key difference between South African and New Zealand teams - is they got close to the line but just weren’t able to crack the defence. They scored two tries but had so many opportunities to do it. The Crusaders had far fewer opportunities but they took those. With a 19-point difference, it was a brave performance from the Lions, but the Crusaders deserved it in the end,” Mallett said.
The Lions will lose more players next season and Mallett noted it would be a challenge to reach the final again.
“The Lions have got to work really hard (going into next season). They are losing experience, mainly to Gloucester where Johan Ackermann has set up shop. The problem is that you have to get these young players experienced. So Swys has done really well. This year there was a question mark about how the Lions were going to do, and he has done fantastically to get them to a final.”