Lions expect a “different challenge” when they take on Benetton in the United Rugby Championship match at Ellis Park on Saturday.
After being beaten 33-30 against Connacht in their first home defeat to foreign sides in the competition, they will be eager to bounce back against the Italian guests.
Benetton, however, will be on the Highveld for more than two weeks before racing against the Lions, having faced the Bulls last weekend, and having a number of South Africans in their ranks means they will be well prepared.
“We managed to take the first half of the Bulls vs Benetton match. I think they played with great intensity. We know it’s a physical team in the collision, “said Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen.
“They are also a team that has quite a few South Africans, so being in the Highveld is nothing new for them. Their 10, 15, 4, 5 are all South Africans who have played here before so they will be prepared in terms of that.
“The physical adaptation will also have taken place by the weekend, so it’s a different challenge for us and if we can minimize our mistakes and start well against them I think we can get a positive result.”
Lions will want to give them too outgoing captain Burger Odendaal the perfect farewell, this being his last game at Ellis Park before joining Wasps at the end of the URC campaign.
Odendaal has become a popular figure in the union since joining in 2020 and will be a big loss for Lions in the future.
In last week’s defeat to Connacht it was the Lions’ mistake count that cost them, which they will need to improve against Benetton.
“I think it’s small things that we need to fix once again. I felt that the first two tries were just mistakes we made – they were easy goals for them – so we just have to start better (against Benetton) and stop the mistakes, ”explained Odendaal.
Following this weekend’s game, the Lions have a three-week hiatus before playing the last game of their first URC campaign against the Dragons in Wales in late May.