Lions conditioning coach Dr Gerhaard Jordaan believes Jannes Labuschagne will be able to handle the helter-skelter nature of the hybrid ELVs.
Labuschagne, who retired from all rugby in 2006, returned in September last year to help out the Lions in the last three matches of the Currie Cup. That was played under the global ELVs and not the hybrid rules used for the Super 14 – where the pace of the game is rapidly faster due to the higher number of free-kicks for most penalisable offences.
Jordaan, who helped out the World Cup-winning Springboks in 1995 with their fitness preparations, believes Labuschagne’s pre-season work will aid in him becoming accustomed to the hybrid ELVs.
“We’ve been doing high-intensity training,” Jordaan told keo.co.za. “With these rules you don’t have many penalties where the guys slow it down and have time to decide what to do, so we’ve adjusted training accordingly.
“We’ve made everything in training very fast, with little recovery-time to simulate game situations. This will in turn ensure their recovery-time and fitness improves,” he said.
Coach Loffie Eloff has opted for just one official warm-up game and with their bye coming early in the campaign (week four), Jordaan believes the Lions will reap the dividends in the latter stages of the tournament.
“You tread a fine line between training to work at that intensity and then over-training. There is no clear answer on the perfect number of warm-ups, but we are happy with just one. Otherwise it would make the season very long, especially those last four matches of the season,” said Jordaan.
The Lions lack quality depth across the park, and especially in the second-row. For their friendly against the Bulls Labuschagne and Anton van Zyl were the only fit locks in the squad, with flank Franco van der Merwe covering.
However, Eloff and Jordaan expect Gerhard Mostert to be fit for the Super 14 opener against the Cheetahs, while Dewald Senekal will return soon after.
Eloff has meanwhile dropped some players to form a 33-man squad for the competition. The only surprise omission is that of centre Walter Venter, with Deon van Rensburg and Barry Goodes the back-up midfield pair.
Hooker Ethienne Reynecke, tighthead Ross Geldenhuys, flank Justin Wheeler, and flyhalf Louis Strydom are also excluded.
Senekal and Ernst Joubert are the only players not considered initially due to injury.
Lions reduced squad:
Fullbacks: Louis Ludik, Shandré Frolick
Wings: Ashwin Willemse, Henno Mentz, Michael Killian, Howard Noble, Jannie Boshoff
Centres: Jaque Fourie, Doppies la Grange, Barry Goodes, Deon van Rensburg
Flyhalves: André Pretorius, Earl Rose, Divan Kotze
Scrumhalves: Jano Vermaak, Chris Jonck, Allister Siegelaar
Eighthmen: Willem Alberts, Robert Kruger
Blinside flanks: Franco van der Merwe, Thiliphaut Marole
Openside flanks: Baywatch Grobbelaar, Todd Clever
Locks: Anton van Zyl, Jannes Labuschagne, Gerhard Mostert, Ligtoring Landman
Tightheads: Gert Muller, Lawrence Sephaka
Hookers: Willie Wepener, Hans van Dyk
Looseheads: Heinke van der Merwe, JC van Rensburg
Injured: Ernst Joubert, Dewald Senekal
By Grant Ball