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Mitchell wields the Axe


Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :In the news, Lions, Super Rugby on 14 Apr 2011 at 18:01
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lions coach John Mitchell has lost patience with his under-performing team and wielded a heavy axe ahead of their encounter with the Stormers on Saturday.

Rugby 365 reports that after seven defeats in eight matches – and with injuries also cutting a swathe through the side – Mitchell made seven changes to the starting line-up.

However, it is his unprecedented attack on the form of some players that will raise the eyebrows.

“There is no place for mediocrity,” Mitchell told a media gathering in Johannesburg.

The New Zealand coach made it clear that “action had to be taken” as some of the players weren’t playing at their optimum level.

Out go lock Franco van der Merwe, tighthead prop Patric Cilliers and flyhalf Elton Jantjies.

Injuries have also ruled out fullback James Kamana (fractured leg), veteran Springbok flyhalf André Pretorius (leg), flanks Derick Minnie (knee) and Josh Strauss (concussion), as well as lock George Earl (concussion).

Veteran lock David de Villiers, imported from the Cheetahs this season, former Griquas prop Jacobie Adriaanse and former Sharks flank Michael Rhodes come in for first starts for the Lions in the Super Rugby competition.

There is also a rare start for flyhalf Burton Francis.

Fullback Michael Killian and lock Wikus van Heerden return from injury to claim starting places, while veteran loose forward Cobus Grobbelaar gets another start after playing for the Vodacom Cup side last weekend.

Van der Merwe, who stepped down as captain a fortnight ago, has been demoted to the bench as the result of the side’s poor line-out performances in recent matches.

Mitchell told the media gathering that this first phase facet was “the root of all evil”.

The coach is hoping that the selection of De Villiers, a line-out specialist, and the tall Rhodes at flank, will help to alleviate these problems.

The selection of Francis at flyhalf comes as no surprise after performances by Jantjies that fluctuated between very good and very poor. The leg injury suffered by the Lions’ World Cup-winning No.10, Pretorius obviously contributed to the headache.

Francis, according to Mitchell, fits the game plan of the Lions.

Lions: 15 Michael Killian, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Doppies la Grange (captain), 11 Deon van Rensburg, 10 Burton Francis, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 David de Villiers, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Patric Cilliers, 18 Franco van der Merwe, 19 Dries van Schalkwyk, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Jaco Taute



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