Published: Thu, August 02, 2018
Sports | By Johanna Francis

Lions coach backs enigmatic Jantjies head of Super Rugby final

Lions coach backs enigmatic Jantjies head of Super Rugby final

The Lions are hoping to make it third time lucky after losing the 2016 Super Rugby final away to the Wellington Hurricanes and failing again in a home decider against the Crusaders past year.

The Canterbury Crusaders are wary of the Lions' "momentum-changing" maul ahead of Saturday's Super Rugby final, flanker Matt Todd has said.

The Lions lost at home to the Crusaders in April during the regular season and in last year's final at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

He was called into Steve Hansen's squad for the first time during last month's series against France but suffered a calf injury during training and did not play.

"You have to have a plan".

The Lions have inflicted a home defeat on the Crusaders but that was way back in 2001 in a match played in Nelson.

"They have a guy in Malcolm Marx who is better than any of the Crusaders forwards. The Lions' front row can match the Crusaders' front row".

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Crusaders coach Robertson is smarter than that, appreciating the value of keeping men fresh for the final against the Lions on Saturday night.

From that side, Kieran Read, Wyatt Crocket and Tim Bateman remain in the squad. So, their strengths are going to be countered by the Crusaders' strengths.

But even under the most optimal of conditions, the Lions know they face a taxing task against the holders.

Mallet, who was also Italy coach from 2007-11, has tipped a Crusaders victory and acknowledged that travel would be a factor for the Lions, who are travelling later than usual to Christchurch. The Lions won nine of their 16 games.

De Bruin, though, while admitting the Crusaders are a formidable outfit, said his team had nothing to lose and everything to gain in the final.

"It is a passive defensive system that means you don't get line breaks but you don't put the opposition ball carrier under pressure. We'll have to find them". That is what is going to make it hard, other than the travel. "I think that's remarkable".

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