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Lions' varied options are exactly why their expectations remain low-key

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All in one: Jaco Kriel, Burger Odendaal and Jannie du Plessis (pictured) add steel to a youthful Lions squad
All in one: Jaco Kriel, Burger Odendaal and Jannie du Plessis (pictured) add steel to a youthful Lions squad

When Ivan "Cash" van Rooyen, the Lions' head coach, sent out a voice note to media earlier this week, his message ahead of this weekend's resumption of competitive rugby in South Africa was clear.

Just because the Covid-19 pandemic allowed the franchise to take a good look at itself after a poor Super Rugby campaign and recruit prudently doesn't mean the three-time finalists will suddenly reach the heights of 2016 to 2018.

Instead, Van Rooyen wants to see "progress", markers that the Lions are improving from what is, admittedly, a pretty low base.

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