Emirates Lions Mixing It Up For EPCR Challenge Cup Fixtures


Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen said he was ready to put his squad’s depth to the test over the next few weeks as they switch their attention to the Challenge Cup.

The Lions are currently on their way to France for a match against Perpignan and will then return to Johannesburg and face Newcastle Falcons at Ellis Park.

Van Rooyen said that they will probably probably rotate a little bit for the trip to France and use the squad over the next two weeks.

“The one away game we are playing Sunday afternoon and then we only come back on a Tuesday night.

“To get the best performance from both those games and see if we can win both of them, we are going to have to rotate a little bit and use the squad.

“I’ve got great confidence in using the squad. We also prepared like that for the last two or three weeks, so I think we are ready to go.”

A 26-player squad was announced on Tuesday that was made up of a mix of youthful players who could make their tournament debuts and senior veterans waiting for their first runs this season.

During an online media briefing on Tuesday, Lions scrum coach Julian Redelinghuys explained that the travel factor has influenced the decision to take a change squad for Sunday’s match.

“I think it’s really interesting how we have to go about it. If you look at our travel, we leave for France on Wednesday evening, arrive on Thursday afternoon, then we still have a bus drive,” Redelinghuys said.

“We are only flying home on Monday evening and then arriving here late on Tuesday afternoon."

“To be able to travel with one squad, or say the same 23 for both games, only arrive home on Tuesday and have to perform on Saturday, that’s really tough."

"That’s why you will see the teams looking to manage the squad. It also helps with building squad depth and rewarding the guys who have been working really hard, while the other guys were playing."

“We’ve seen that’s how some of the teams are doing it. I think we will see it more from the South African teams going forward,” Redelinghuys said.

“The really important thing is our recovery after travelling, that’s where I think we have made a massive step up. Our travel time is around 23 hours, but the big thing for us is to recover well to play on the weekend.”