Hurricanes expect physical welcome at Ellis Park
Absorbing the anticipated pressure the Lions will look to mount on the Hurricanes is the key to turning it back on the home team at Ellis Park in their Investec Super Rugby game on Sunday (NZT).
Assistant coach John Plumtree said the players had been told every day this week that it was going to be a tough encounter and the Lions would be looking to hold onto the ball for long phases to take the sting out of the Hurricanes.
They had to be able to cope with that and then turn it back on the Lions when their chances came, he said.
Having been disappointed with the defensive effort against the Chiefs, Plumtree said he was hopeful the planning put in for the Lions was effective. They had a good session on Thursday.
"We think they are probably going to drive us from all areas of the field so it's going to be a big night for the forwards," he said.
"The Lions do play more expansively than most South African sides with Elton Jantjies, Faf de Klerk, Howard Mnisi, Lionel Mapoe, they don't mind giving the ball a bit of width as well so it is going to be a good test for us.
Jantjies and de Klerk were a good inside-back pairing and would be dangerous.
"Elton Jantjies has been around for a good while now and gathered a lot of experience. The forwards have been giving him some nice, fast ball. I think they're second or third in the tournament in terms of how fast their ball is they also cross the advantage line really early when they have possession so he enjoys running hard onto that ball so he's a threat in himself.
"And we know what a threat Faf is around the edges of the rucks, so we've really got to put a lot of pressure on those two and hopefully slow some of their possession down and that will hopefully come from some good tackling from us," he said.
The Highlanders and Crusaders had shown how to deal with the Lions play on the advantage line and it was up to the Hurricanes to make sure they get their defence right because quick ball, at altitude for the home team, could really hurt them.
"That's been the message and it is up to us to make sure we execute that when we get on the park," he said.
Prop Reggie Goodes was ready for a searching test in the tight quarter from the Lions.
"The Lions have got a good reputation with their scrum so it is going to be a tough one this weekend. We have done the training and we've prepared ourselves well so hopefully it goes well this week," he said.
The Lions have been unsettled having lost both their tighthead props and Pieter Scholtz is on his debut.
"We don't take anything out of that though because every South African side plays with the same intensity and they've got a point to prove.
"These two games in South Africa are very important to win and Chris Boyd has said we need to leave South Africa with eight, nine or 10 points so we see it as a really important two games and this first one is certainly the toughest trying to get over your jet lag and playing at altitude," he said.
It is his second time at Ellis Park and the altitude was felt in the lungs and while the work up front did take it out of you as opposed to running around, but fortunately they had two good props on the bench who could come on to take over when tiredness kicked in. It was about playing at top for as long as possible.