Lions assistant coach Sean Erasmus has lamented their players’ lack of defensive spacial awareness, which has directly led to the concession of 10 tries in two games on tour so far. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
The Lions are currently negating the second leg of their four-game tour of Australasia. They started in Australia with matches against the Waratahs and Rebels, which they lost by big margins. The Lions have since made the trip to New Zealand and will front the Blues this coming weekend before taking on the Highlanders.
The Lions have won just one of the five games they’ve played so far this year and now occupy last spot on the South African conference table and the 12th position on the combined overall log.
Poor defence has been at the heart of the Lions’ struggles, as they conceded 21 tries in five matches. They leaked four or more tries in four of those five games, including five tries each in their last two matches against the Waratahs and Rebels, respectively.
Erasmus, who was appointed as the team’s new defence coach in January, believes the Lions are on the right track in terms of a set defensive system, but that the problems stem from execution by the players.
‘Obviously we are way over the goals that we set for ourselves as a defensive team. We’ve been working hard on certain issues within our defensive system to make sure that we can be better and not concede those amounts of tries,’ Erasmus said.
‘Our system is based on getting in line and off the line quickly. I feel within the last couple of weeks we’ve gotten better within the system, but obviously our spacing is something we need to address to get a little bit more width. With modern-day defences putting a lot of pressure on attack, I think a lot of teams will look to go wide and that’s where we [Lions] have to improve.’
‘As far as one-on-one individual hits are concerned, it’s always a building process with players, especially when they don’t play with confidence. It’s something we’re are working on at the moment and I’m while quite happy with the progress of certain individuals, we’re not where we want to be.’
Erasmus conceded that their wretched set of results does not only put added pressure on the team to perform on game days, it effects their preparations as well. But he is adamant that the Lions can turn things around to still reach the playoffs, starting with an improved display against the Blues this weekend.
‘As far as turning things around goes, I’m really excited about our recent defence sessions; we’ve done a lot of video prep, individual prep, had some good one-on-ones with the players and I think there’s a lot more clarity on what we want to achieve, starting this weekend. These Lions are a proud bunch of boys and will want to put in a good effort.
‘The Blues have exciting players on the edges and they’ll play to their strengths. It’s something we’re aware of and prepping for. As I said earlier, within our system we can focus a lot on getting our spacing correct and the communication around that spacing.’
The Lions match against the Blues kicks off at 5:25am SA time on Saturday.
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