Cape Town - Flyhalf Elton Jantjies says the Lions will expect a high tempo from Super Rugby newcomers the Sunwolves when the two teams face off in Tokyo on Saturday (06:15 kick-off).
The Lions will be making history by playing the first Super Rugby match in Japan this weekend.
They face the Sunwolves, who are one of three franchises added to the new 18-team tournament format, along with Argentina’s Jaugares and the re-addition of South Africa’s Southern Kings.
The Lions will depend on the experience of Jantjies, speedster Lionel Mapoe, lock Andries Ferreira and flank Warwick Tecklenburg, who have recently played club rugby in Japan and will be familiar with the conditions in the Far East.
However, Jantjies stressed that the Lions are prepared for this weekend’s challenge as a unit.
“The guys who have played in Japan will pass on their experience and it will be useful, but we can’t just depend on that insight,” Jantjies told MyPlayers.
“This is a new Japanese team and they will have their own unique plans for the match this weekend. They’ll have their own ideas on how to win the game, so we have ensure that we are ready to face any challenge.
“The Japanese love playing at a high tempo and they thrive with momentum and intensity, so we are expecting a fast-paced match. The conditions will be cold too.”
Jantjies added that the Lions’ pre-season preparations went well.
“We’re ready for our opening game. The guys have worked hard to ensure we’re ready,” said Jantjies. “We just need to ensure we control our ball and make the right decisions, especially at key moments of the match.
“There’s a good level of confidence in the squad, so we need to continue that momentum ahead of a tough schedule of matches.
“Like (captain) Warren Whiteley said before, we’re excited by the unknowns of this year’s Super Rugby competition. We believe we have what it takes to be successful at this level, home and away, so we’ll be working hard to fulfil our potential.”
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