While the Springboks receive a boost with the reintroduction of mauling the Lions may also have a few tricks up their sleeve.
These were the words of Lions assistant coach Warren Gatland, who will be handling the forwards for the duration of the tour. The revision of the ELVs sees the old lineout laws reinstated and this will allow teams like the Springboks to revisit their mauling strengths.
‘It’s a traditional strength of South Africa and something we will spend plenty of time preparing to counter,’ Gatland told keo.co.za. ‘Fortunately, it is an area where we are very capable.
‘The ELVs robbed the lineout of its variation. There were a lot of full lineouts and balls going off the top, but there was no mauling. With this revision of the laws, hopefully we’ll see more variation at this set piece and that will make for a better game.’
The hybrid ELVs have been axed meaning the Boks’ will play under the same breakdown laws that have been utilised in European club competitions and Tests. It does hand the Lions a slight advantage, but Gatland said it’s going to be tough to best the Boks in this department.
‘We’ve watched a number of tapes of the Super 14 and we have experience of playing them [as individual unions] in Tests. It’s an area where they are very tough, and nothing less than 100% from our boys is going to be enough.
‘Every tackle, hit or clear-out needs to be done at full intensity. We have to get low, we have to go hard and we have to be dynamic otherwise we’ll come short.’
While the Lions have the personnel capable of playing an aggressive game, they are short a few kickers which could be telling on the highveld.
‘We have two kicking 10s as well as James Hook, and Lee Byrne has a big boot, but other than that we are lacking depth,’ said Gatland. ‘There aren’t really many recognised kickers in midfield. It is an area we’ll have to work on.’
The Lions had a few injury concerns following the European Cup final last Saturday, but Gatland confirmed the entire squad participated at Tuesday morning’s training session, even the major concern, Brian O’Driscoll.
By Jon Cardinelli, in Johannesburg