A rejuvenated Swys de Bruin said he is excited about the next six weeks of Super Rugby as the Lions look to get themselves off the floor of the SA Conference points table.
De Bruin is back in charge for tomorrow’s match against the Waratahs after taking a few weeks off due to stress-related matters. He said yesterday he “feels good” after receiving help to deal with the issues that forced him to return home from the team’s tour of New Zealand recently.
And he is hopeful the Lions can perform to their own high standards in the coming weeks.
“We’ve lost some games I wasn’t happy about,” said De Bruin about his team’s progress in the competition, “but we did manage to beat the Jaguares home and away, and we were able to again beat the Chiefs in Hamilton recently, like we did in 2016. So there have been positives.”
But the Lions have lost twice at home as well, to the Bulls and Sharks, and after playing 10 games, have won just five. They have six matches remaining before the play-off stages, four of which are at Ellis Park, with the two away games in Durban and Pretoria.
“There have been lots of changes in the team, we’ve lost a lot of players and there have been injuries, but that is history now. It’s no excuse.
“We’ve got to look ahead to the next six games. We’ve got a bit of a run at home now and I like to compare where we are now to a round of golf… we’ve played nine holes and have nine to go, and we’re in the race, just six points off the conference leaders.
“I’m excited. I could see from the training sessions this week there’s a lot of positivity. We’ve regrouped after the tour and we’re looking forward to what’s lying ahead for us.”
In further good news for the Lions, regular captain Warren Whiteley is back to lead the side this week after missing the team’s last tour match against the Crusaders in Christchurch nearly two weeks ago. He has recovered from a knee knock and will join Kwagga Smith and fit-again Vincent Tshituka in the Lions’ back-row.
Malcolm Marx, Courtnall Skosan and Harold Vorster are also all back in the side after missing out on the action recently.
De Bruin said having Whiteley back to lead was a big boost. “It’s been a difficult season for Warren with the injuries, but he’s such a team man and is so instrumental for us; it’s lovely to have him back.”
Meanwhile, in an interesting development, De Bruin and the Lions’ coaching hierarchy have decided to give promising 21-year-old loose forward Hacjivah Dayimani a run at centre in the Golden Lions’ SuperSport Challenge match against the Valke tomorrow.