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Thread: Super 14, 2008- The Lions

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    Super 14, 2008- The Lions

    Form from 2007
    The Lions started the Super 14 brilliantly in 2007 with 4 wins from 5 games. They fell away after that with only one more win for the rest of the season which coach Eugene Eloff blamed on lack of depth. They finished 3rd last. Eloff won't have the depth excuse this year, however, as his team is made up of either World Cup winning Springboks or Lions Currie Cup players who made, and narrowly lost, the final. Jo-Burg fans will want results in 2008 and Eugene Eloff will need to knock the Lions a few pegs up in the ladder.

    Coming and Goings
    Leaving the forwards is experienced prop Lawrence Sephaka. Sephaka has been in and out of the Springboks squad for the last few years and now plays for Toulon in France. At 29 Sephaka would still have a good few years of playing left but being left out of the Springboks this year (having made the 2006 Tri-Nations team) for the World Cup sealed the deal to leave. He'll be a loss but its not the end of the world. Another forward on the out is ex-Bull backrow Jacques Cronje. Cronje joined the Lions in 2007 for a season and has now hooked up with Biarritz. Cronje is an incredibly powerful player and would also be disappointed about his World Cup non-selection (especially with Spies out).

    Having an injury record to compete with Clyde Rathbone, Ashwin Willemse came back and had a super season (pardon the pun) resulting in a Springboks selection. He's now joined Biarritz and is another loss for the Lions but not one they can't live without. Eloff would be made to rely about a player with that kind of injury history.

    As always with South Africa, squads are always decided late for the following year. There has been talk though that No.8 Joe Van Niekirk may join the Lions since his deal with Northhampton fell through. Van Niekirk is another of the perpetually walking wounded but if he can keep fit is a powerful running backrower who make a good replacement for Jacques Cronje

    Keep an eye on
    2007 captain and power forward Ernst Joubert is always a sight to behold. The hardworking No 8 forms part of a solid pack this year and will lead from the front. Few (if any) of the Lions forwards played for the Springboks this year and the time together in the Currie Cup will have built some good interrelationships and combinations. There are no doubts Joubert and his backrow compatriots will feature heavily in Eloff's game plan.

    With few truly brilliant fly halfs in South Africa, Louis Strydom will be looking to press a claim on test selection. Since the Stormers and Sharks will likely play their foreign 10s (Tony Brown and Michalak) Strydom can show off his potential and tussle with Andre Pretorius for the starting role. Either way he is likely to get quite a lot of game time as Pretorius seems to be always injured.

    Prospectus for 2008
    Sorry to say it but the Lions lack class. The pack is competant, the set-pieces are stable and the backs are sound but thats all there is to it. There are no 'watch out for that guy' type players. Of their 5 wins 4 were by 7 or less points and 3 wins were against ABless New Zealand sides. Sure they can expect some wins when their opponents play poorly and the odd upset at home (at altitude) but the Lions are going nowhere fast. If they can hold things together for a fair while they'll start doing better in a year or two but for now I'm marking them down for my 11th place.

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    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
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    I'm not really looking at how the predictions I'm making match each other, and it feels like I've tipped just about everyone between 9 and 13 now,but That's about the feeling I get for the Lions as well. I guess I'm saying you're right n they money with this one James, and I'm not planning to argue here.

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    C'mon the

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    Quote Originally Posted by GiteauIsGunnaScoreTwenty View Post
    I'm not really looking at how the predictions I'm making match each other, and it feels like I've tipped just about everyone between 9 and 13 now,but That's about the feeling I get for the Lions as well. I guess I'm saying you're right n they money with this one James, and I'm not planning to argue here.
    I'm trying to keep the predictions matching but its hard work its easy to pick out who is going to suck but at the top end I've had a few reshuffles.

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    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
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    Yeah. I think I'll try and put together a proposed ladder before I say too much more. I'll be back in three months!

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    C'mon the

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    Veteran zimeric's Avatar
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    I think the lions will impress again early in the season but hopefully my good friend Will Mbanga who is one of the fitness & conditioning contractors, will be able to keep them of the physio's bench and on the field as the season wears on..

    im tipping them at 9 this year

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    Senior Player Contributor gustafsl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GiteauIsGunnaScoreTwenty View Post
    I'm not really looking at how the predictions I'm making match each other, and it feels like I've tipped just about everyone between 9 and 13 now,but That's about the feeling I get for the Lions as well. I guess I'm saying you're right n they money with this one James, and I'm not planning to argue here.
    That's one of the things I love about Super 14 is that it is fairly evenly matched between the teams. I'm not talking top to bottom as obviously the Crusaders are about 100X better then the Reds. Of course there are the couple teams that will finish near the top and the couple that will finish near the bottom. But there is a group of about 10 teams there that could really finish anywhere.

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    Veteran zimeric's Avatar
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    i think next year we will see a bit of a change/transition of power away from NZ.
    The Kiwi's are undergoing a changing of the guard, cleaning house whatever you want to call it and wont be as prominent, even the Crusaders i think will find it tougher. The Aussie teams have been building for a couple of years now and judging by James excellent reviews i really do think all the Aussie teams will do better this coming season. The Saffa's are, well im not quite sure - i think they will have a couple of really good teams. im tipping the stormers to show a bit more mettle this year, the unknowns are the Lions.. they did really well in the currie cup but S14 is another step up so we'll see how they go.
    Its going to be a lot closer this year over any other previously i think.

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    I'd have said the MARC will have helped a lot in spacing our teams off the bottom and if it keeps going the future looks promising. Every year the Perth local comp gets better and better and more and more young players will play for the Australian Schools Boys and become age grade reps and we'll have a whole new player source. We already have a huge bunch of talented young players soon to come through the system (particularly the current School boys crop) and if we can keep the High Performance Unit up to a very good standard there will be a resurgence.

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