“We’ve Got To Find A Way To Squeeze The Cell C Sharks” – Ivan van Rooyen


Head coach Ivan van Rooyen said at an Emirates Lions conference on Tuesday that they need to be more aggressive, take more chances and not be as passive if they want to break their duck against other South African franchises.

Van Rooyen said that the Emirates Lions will have to match the Cell C Sharks physically on Saturday while playing with confidence.

“We believe that the difference between us playing against other SA teams to playing European teams is the physicality. If you look at the Stormers, Sharks and Bulls, they all attack differently but keep you under constant pressure."

“So we know we have to chance our arm a little more on attack and have to force them to make tackles and take that attack to them because if you just sit back and kick and defend, especially with the speed of the outside backs of all the SA teams, they’ll punish you."

“Every team’s defensive system is slightly different and I know it’ll be extremely hard on our attack. It’s a combination of confidence and chancing your arm a little bit … sometimes to go for a 50/50 offload and not force another ruck."

“SA teams are similar to what Ulster and Leinster can do to you; if you’re just going to keep on forcing rucks, their defensive cohesion is good enough to force a turnover.”

“We know we just can’t play from ruck to ruck, we have to be more dynamic on attack and also with our kicking game. If you look at the top teams, the Stormers, Bulls, Sharks, Leinsters, Ulsters and Munsters, the point of difference is currently their attacking as well as their defensive kicking game.

“It has been a work-on for us on tour because of the conditions and circumstances but particularly at home we’ve worked hard on that.”

“It will be an opportunity for us to go head to head against a team who, if they’re slightly off on confidence we need to capitalise. If not, we’ve got to find a way to squeeze them.”

Van Rooyen also confirmed that outside centre Henco van Wyk who had ankle surgery joins flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse (shoulder), lock Reinhard Nothnagel and No 8 Francke Horne (both have ankle complaints) on the sidelines.

However, scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba and winger Rabz Maxwane have returned to training and are up for selection.

“You don’t have to elaborate more than the fact that the local teams you play against 5 to 12 Springboks, and we don’t have current Springboks yet. I do think that makes a bit of a difference. But the Irish teams and South Africans are the most complete teams, and they can damage you on attack and defence.