Blues will face confident Lions at Ellis Park

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    08 Mar 2018     Getty Images

They know their last game against the Blues was a 43-5 triumph but will have to do without one of the cornerstones of their side last year, and the man who took over the captaincy when Warren Whiteley was injured, Jaco Kriel.


A shoulder operation he had last year after suffering injury in a Test against Australia was unsuccessful and he will have more surgery on Thursday.

That will leave him on the sideline for at least another six months.

But Springbok and Lions fullback Andries Coetzee knows what the Blues are capable of if they are allowed to click on game day, even if they have yet to have their first win of the season.

"We know how good these guys are, especially with the ball in hand, on the counter-attack.

"They're excellent at capitalising on one's mistakes so the key for us is to limit our mistakes and keep our discipline…that's the team that will win," he told The Star in Johannesburg.

At the same time he said the Lions were excited about facing their first New Zealand opponents this season.

"We've won three matches but it means nothing really at this early stage of the competition. It's a long season and anything can happen in any week…there's just no room to slack off. That's why it is the most difficult competition in the world; you need to concentrate every week and do proper homework on your opposition, otherwise you'll get hurt," he said.

The Lions were focusing on what they needed to do and getting the best out of himself and his teammates had been the focus for the side.

"The team is playing well and that means the individuals are doing their work; the forwards especially. It's a good start yes, but there's a long way to go.

"I think the fact I played Test rugby last year has given me greater confidence going into the season. It's given me more comfort to make decisions, but that doesn't mean I'm comfortable. One has to reset every year and set new challenges for yourself," he said.

New Lions backline coach Neil de Bruin said the mindset for the side this was was 'nothing new, just better'.

"All we've looked to do is build on what the team did last year and the years before that.

"The right word to use is evolving…we want to keep growing. We've started well this year and are on the right track, but we're far from perfect. If we can keep improving and being a better team than the week before then we're doing well. It's a long season still ahead of us, and it's going to be crucial to peak at the right time," he said.

One player who has made an impact for the side is wing Sylvian Mahuza, a player whose chances before this season had been limited due to Springboks Ruan Combrinck and Courtnall Skosan being preferred.

"I've been here at the Lions for four seasons now and nothing much has changed in the approach to the game. Coach Swys [de Bruin] has been here all along…and he's always been the attack coach.

"We've always wanted to play an attacking game and that hasn't changed. We might have changed a few coaches, but we're still the same Lions," he said.