After a Shark attack in Durban, the Queensland Reds are now preparing themselves for a young pride of Lions to pounce in South Africa’s Highveld.
The weary Reds, who shed over 60kg of combined body weight in the humid conditions of Durban in a 35-20 loss to the Sharks last weekend, will have to adjust quickly to the altitude and unusually rainy conditions in Johannesburg for Sunday’s clash with the Lions.
Coach Richard Graham said the team had travelled early to Johannesburg to get as much preparation in altitude as possible before the game against the revitalised Lions, who he feels are nothing like the franchise which was dumped from the competition last year.
The Lions have won three of their five matches so far this season and defeated the Blues last weekend in Benji Marshall’s first start for the Aucklanders.
Graham highlighted five-eighth Marnitz Boshoff as he discussed the new breed of Lions which bear no resemblance to the perennial wooden spoon contenders the team was before their one-year hiatus in 2013.
“The 2014 Lions side is unrecognisable to the side from 2012,” Graham said.
“They’ve made a raft of changes in their squad having being relegated last year. (They) have come back with a young group, full of energy and playing a good brand of rugby.
“You’ve got a young group that don’t bear the scars of their previous history.
“You’ve got a 10 at the moment, whilst he’s only four games into his Super Rugby career, he’s full of confidence and kicking goals from anywhere, from 60 metres out.”
Reds flanker Eddie Quirk echoed his coach’s sentiments and said making the most of limited opportunities to prepare for conditions will be crucial.
“The altitude’s probably the main thing training-wise that you have to adapt to and it’s just a different place,” Quirk said.
“The majority of the South African teams are big and physical. That’s exactly what we expected from the Sharks and they gave us that. We’ve got to take the same attributes into this week against the Lions.
“Nothing really changes except we’ve probably got to perform better.”