Lions coach: Wow, the Bulls look strong!
Cape Town - Lions coach Swys de Bruin says he expects a stern challenge from the other South African sides in this year's Super Rugby tournament.
"Wow, the Bulls look particularly strong. It looks like things are happening there at Loftus and they'll be a totally different animal this season," De Bruin told Netwerk24.
The Bulls head into the 2019 season with a new head coach in Pote Human, as well as a new director of rugby in Alan Zondagh.
They have also bolstered their stocks with Springboks Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Brits and Cornal Hendricks, while other exciting new recruits include the Blitzboks trio of Dylan Sage, Rosko Specman and Stedman Gans and loose forwards Muller Uys from Western Province and Paul Schoeman from the Cheetahs.
Human replaces John Mitchell, who has left to become England’s defence coach. Under Mitchell's guidance, the Bulls finished 12th in 2018, winning six of 16 games.
In 2017, Nollis Marais was the head coach when the Bulls finished 15th in an 18-team competition, winning just four of 15 games.
Regarding the fortunes of the other local teams, De Bruin added: "The Sharks have momentum carried over from winning the Currie Cup and the Stormers look very strong up front. They have probably a dozen Springboks to choose for their pack."
The Lions, who have been Super Rugby runners-up for three seasons running, play a warm-up game against the Bulls on Saturday and will also be in action against the Sharks in the first game of a double header at Cape Town Stadium on February 3.
On the same day, the Stormers play the Bulls in what will be the first public appearance of the new-look superhero jerseys, which will serve as the strips for the South African derbies in this year's Super Rugby competition.
The 2019 Super Rugby competition starts on the weekend of February 15/16.