Super Rugby

Confident Lions pinpoint Warrick Gelant threat for Loftus meeting

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Warrick Gelant
Warrick Gelant
  • The Lions have joined the chorus hailing the potential impact of Warrick Gelant now that he's joined the Stormers.
  • Head coach Ivan van Rooyen notes that the gifted Springbok fullback adds even more potency to the Capetonians' counter-attacking ability.
  • Yet the men from Ellis Park are in good spirits themselves as they start afresh with various reinforcements and a long period of reflection.

If there's one man in South African rugby who's clearly earmarked for greater heights by his peers, it's Warrick Gelant.

Last week, Stormers team-mate Seabelo Senatla hailed the 25-year-old Springbok - who has moved from Loftus Versfeld to Newlands with much fanfare - as an "assist master", referring to the fullback's creative talents.

Now, even Lions coach Ivan 'Cash' van Rooyen, a man not known for focusing too much on opposition players in public, has pointed out Gelant as a danger man in the franchises' Super Fan Saturday' meeting at Loftus this weekend.

"One of the strengths of the Stormers has always been that they have great counter-attacking ability," he said.

"If you kick on them, they can punish you. With Warrick now part of their team, the same will happen."

Yet while Gelant adds pizzazz to a backline brimming with playmaking talent, the men from Ellis Park are very much aware of first countering the Stormers' formidable pack, which is expected to boast at least four Springboks.

"They're a great team. They've got a good scrum, set-piece in general and maul," said Van Rooyen.

However, the Lions have good reason to feel a little less daunted by their high-profile opposition.

Despite a nightmarish sequence of results in this year's curtailed Super Rugby campaign, where they lost five out of six, they came agonisingly close to toppling the Capetonians earlier this year, succumbing to a last-gasp try by Ruhan Nel in a 30-33 defeat.

Adding to a renewed sense of confidence is a recruitment drive that has netted various experienced players such as Jaco Kriel (flank), props Ruan Dreyer and Wiehahn Herbst, former Bulls skipper and midfielder Burger Odendaal and wily hooker Jaco Visagie.

"It's a great test for us, especially after our previous meeting where they beat us in the 84th minute," said Van Rooyen.

"It's a good measure for where we are physically, how our set-pieces are going. We just want to get going again."

Naturally, no-one is expecting the Lions to suddenly make a spectacular U-turn from the troubles of six months earlier but rather just steps in the right direction.

"We really just want to give the players the opportunity to express themselves again. It's important for us to show progress in all departments from where we left off and see how the things we're working on are going," said Van Rooyen.  

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