Ruan Dreyer and JP Smith’s guts and determination against Munster helped the Lions bounce back in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship.
So says Lions scrum coach Julian Redelinghuys, who singled out the veterans’ efforts in Saturday’s come-from-behind 23-21 win over the Irish club – their second on the trot after a five-match losing run in the URC.
Dreyer and Smith, two of only six players currently at the Lions who are older than 30, came on as part of a new-look front row in the second half and made a telling impact, especially on defence.
“Ruan’s face after the game said everything,” Redelinghuys said. “He had a broken nose and a little afro standing on his head. All the signs were there that he was in the wars. But it’s wonderful to see a guy like him working so hard.
“That’s what you expect from senior players, the leaders in your group. When they come on, they give stability, clarity and a little bit of calmness along with a massive work rate. That’s encouraging to see because it’s so clear that you need that input from the guys who have been playing for a long time.”
And, according to Redelinghuys, the Lions’ first-choice front row of Sti Sithole, Jaco Visagie and Carlu Sadie can learn a thing or two from Dreyer and Smith about laying it all on the line.
“It’s an attitude we’ve been driving for all 15 players on the field at a given time,” the ex-Springbok added. “We’re not just expecting some of the forwards to pull their weight in the set pieces, which is their primary jobs. You want them to do their secondary tasks, too.
“It’s encouraging to see how the guys are making an impact off the ball. It makes one really proud.”
The Lions next face Welsh outfit Ospreys in the URC at Ellis Park on Friday night.