Lions flanker Cobus “Baywatch” Grobbelaar is revelling under the ELVs.
Baywatch’s reading of the game has meant he has consistently been one of the best South African flankers in this year’s Super 14. The Lions loosies were the stand-outs against the Sharks, with Grobbelaar at the forefront. Baywatch arguably won the battle of the breakdown against the dual-fetcher combination of Keegan Daniel and Jacques Botes, repeatedly turning over crucial ball with the help of teammates Ernst Joubert and Joe van Niekerk.
Grobbelaar told keo.co.za he has noticed a few aspects of change at the breakdown since the introduction of the ELVs, where teams are committing less cleaners to the rucks due to the pace of the game. Flankers such as Baywatch then have to try predict the course of the game and decide which breakdown they will commit to.
“If one of their guys has sealed the ball off at the tackle, I’ll go into the defence line and wait for the next ruck,” said Grobbelaar.
Grobbelaar has been one such Lions player who has shown an ability to forecast the flow of the game. All fifteen Lions will need to produce similar levels of perception against the Reds on Saturday in order to break the franchise’s four-match losing streak.
Grobbelaar is expecting another physical performance from the Reds this week. The Reds outmuscled the lacklustre Bulls last week, and got the rewards when they hammered them 40-8.
“They had lots of passion last week against the Bulls – they have a good scrum, aggressive tackling and are very physical at the breakdown. They have got guys like Latham who can play the expansive game, but I think they are going to try dominate us up-front first,” said Grobbelaar.
This approach, if adopted by the Reds, could favour the Lions. The Lions, despite lacking when finishing in the backs, do have a tight-five who have only enhanced their reputations in this year’s Super 14, and a loose-trio who have dominated the breakdown area.
By Grant Ball