Lions mentor praises 10-day cycle decision: We can now work nice and hard

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Prince Nkabinde is one of the new faces for the Lions. (Gallo Images)
Prince Nkabinde is one of the new faces for the Lions. (Gallo Images)
  • Ivan van Rooyen, the Lions coach, has already lauded SA Rugby's decision to adopt a 10-day cycle between matches in the upcoming preparation series.
  • He believes the increasing training time that the arrangement allows will deliver a better on-field product over the next five weeks.
  • Referees are also expected to be on board by officiating in a way that encourages increased ball-in-play.

It hasn't been executed yet, but Ivan van Rooyen, the Lions' head coach, already believes the 10-day cycles between matches in the upcoming preparation series is a "brilliant move".

That arrangement is the cornerstone of the five-week period of fixtures, which SA Rugby has designed as a high performance exercise.

"It's an unbelievably good decision that's been made by Rassie (Erasmus) and co," said Van Rooyen, who's handed the coaching reigns of the side to Under-21 mentor Mziwakhe Nkosi temporarily.

"There were weeks (during Super Rugby Unlocked and the Currie Cup) that we literally had to get by one-and-a-half training sessions before a match. It was definitely disruptive."

The tight training timeframe in last season's domestic campaign was almost solely down to Covid-19 protocols, which dictate that teams can only do weekly testing 48 hours after the conclusion of a match and can't engage in contact training until those results have been received.

For now at least, that effect is being mitigated.

"Now we can look forward to a full training week after we've done our weekly testing," said Van Rooyen.

"The fact that we now can have five to six days' sessions will definitely improve the quality of the on-field product because you now have sufficient time to work on aspects of your play. 

"We can now work nice and hard behind the scenes, on conditioning and skills."

However, if local franchises are to conjure up a more compelling product following last season's severe criticism from pundits and the rugby-watching public, they'll need to be allowed clarity and freedom in terms of the laws from referees.

Erasmus, the national director of rugby, last month intimated that the individuals with the whistle might even be wholly instructed to officiate matches as if they were being played in Europe.

"I believe we're going to have a bit of everything when it comes to the refereeing of games," said Van Rooyen.

"There's definitely a big sense that this series needs to prepare the franchises for Europe. There'll be one or two areas that are focused on pertinently. 

"Ball-in-play has become one of the big talking points locally. There's a need for a bit more of a 'flow' to matches. As a result, I think this series might have the makings of being quite exciting. 

"Players are going to be keen to grab their respective opportunities."

The Lions begin their sequence of fixtures against the Pumas on Friday evening.

Kick-off at Ellis Park is at 19:00.



15 EW Viljoen, 14 Prince Nkabinde, 13 Manny Rass, 12 James Mollentze, 11 Divan Rossouw, 10 Tiaan Swanepoel, 9 Morne van den Berg, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Roelof Smit, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel, 4 Emmanuel Tshituka, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 PJ Botha, 1 Nathan McBeth

Substitutes: 16 Dameon Venter, 17 Banele Mthenjane, 18 Jannie du Plessis, 19 Ruhan Straeuli, 20 MJ Pelser, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Luke Rossouw, 23 Ngia Selengbe


15 Devon Williams, 14 Luther Obi, 13 Alwayno Visagie, 12 Wayne van der Bank, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Eddie Fouche, 9 Giovan Snyman, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Ewart Potgieter, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren (captain), 4 Brandon Valentyn, 3 Ig Prinsloo, 2 Simon Westraadt, 1 Morgan Naude

Substitutes: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Liam Hendriks, 18 Dewald Maritz, 19 Le Roux Roets, 20 Kwanda Dimaza, 21 Ginter Smuts, 22 Ali Mgijima, 23 Tapiwa Mafura   

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