Noakes: Tourists will struggle

Tim Noakes insists that playing the next two Tests at altitude will be a big disadvantage for the Lions.

While the Lions have trained with altitude masks throughout their tour, and are only flying up to Pretoria on Friday night, Noakes believes they will still find life difficult at Loftus on Saturday.

‘Fatigue sets in a lot quicker at altitude and everything seems that much harder,’ he says in the latest issue of SA Rugby magazine. ‘What you do at relative ease at sea level makes you much more fatigued on the highveld.

‘It takes an extra effort to keep pushing really hard and most teams would have done the best they can by the last 20 minutes.

‘There’s no doubt that playing at altitude is a major advantage for the Boks, particularly the Bulls players who play at altitude regularly – they know what it’s like and what’s required.’

sar147-coverNoakes expects the Lions to adapt their game plan in order to deal with the rarefied atmosphere.

‘They will play with less intensity in the first half and will hold back a bit, maybe look to slow the game down a bit and in that way hope to last the full 80 minutes.’

In the same issue, former Lions scrumhalf John Robbie disagrees with Noakes, saying he coped just fine during the 1980 series.

‘I suppose some of the big forwards would talk about shortage of breath, and the ball obviously travels a little further, but to me everything seemed more focused and faster. I loved it and I can honestly say I never noticed it,’ he said.

– The new issue of SA Rugby magazine is on sale now for R23.95