Cape Town sojourn ‘is hampering Lions’ training’

2009-06-26 00:00

THE British Lions have erred in staying in the wet and at sea level rather preparing at altitude for tomorrow’s second Test against the Springboks at Loftus.

That is the view of Springbok assistant coach Dick Muir, who said he is pleased to hear that the tourists have stayed on in Cape Town after their Tuesday game against the Emerging Boks instead of travelling up to Pretoria.

Cape Town may be more scenic and relaxing, but the rain and wind of the past week have hampered the Lions’ training.

“Cape Town’s a great place to be in terms of player welfare, but when we heard they were spending an extra week there, we felt it was a mistake. I don’t know how flexible they can be because they have a big squad, but we’re not sorry they’re training in the wet,” Muir said.

The former Sharks coach said the Lions can expect an increase in the physicality of the Springboks.

“We’ve got tough guys up front and the typical South African style is to get stuck in. They like physical confrontation and the Emerging Springboks showed in midweek that when things got messy against the Lions in Cape Town, we matched them physically,” said Muir, who coached the South African squad for the midweek game.

“On Saturday, we want the forwards to get right in there early on and control the game. In the first Test, we gave away too much possession at the end and the Lions controlled the game. So on Saturday we want it to be physical.”

Muir said he is expecting an improvement from the Springbok backs who were exposed defensively by the hard-running Lions attackers. Four of the backs have seen little rugby in recent months, he added.

“Ruan Pienaar is a special player and we knew we could throw him at flyhalf without much match practice, but all the backs will be better for having played last weekend.

“We defend as a unit, so you can’t just single out one player, and I’m confident we’ve sorted out the defensive issues this week.”

Muir was adamant that centre Adi Jacobs, who finished the Super 14 with a shoulder injury and was advised to have surgery, was fully fit.

“Adi is certainly not injured. He had a shoulder injury in the Super 14 and he had rehab … he came through fine.”

Muir said he is encouraged by the mood in the Bok camp.

“There’s a lot of excitement and enthusiasm … We didn’t play that well in Durban and they’re a group of proud individuals so they will make sure they go up a level on Saturday.”

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