Mitchell to focus on Lions youth for Super Rugby

Lions head coach John Mitchell has admitted that he will need to get the younger players in his Super Rugby squad to make a big step up for the coming season.

Mitchell said after his side’s 28-6 defeat against the Stormers at Newlands on Friday, that mental fortitude was an important part of the team’s preparation.

The Lions team included several players who carried the side to last season’s Currie Cup title while the Stormers fielded players, particularly along the Springbok-laden backline, which saw the franchise win the South African Super Rugby Conference.

“I will be looking to close that mental window for them (the youngsters) very quickly,” said Mitchell.

“Also because the (substitutes) bench will be critical at some stage, we have to make sure that we’ve prepared the guys.

“I have a few under-19 players because there was nothing to buy, at least not players with reputation.

“I’d rather bring youth through the ranks in our system and that has been a big part of my coaching career.”

Mitchell felt that in terms of preparedness for the match, his team needed another week to be adequately conditioned.

“Our preparation was probably a week short for this game,” said Mitchell.

“We were pretty average in attack and there’s work to do in the line-outs.

“But it was a good starting point for us and performance-wise we can see there is still a lot to work on.

“As we close in on the start of the season we will look to be sharper and more physical.

“Our style of football will be refreshing and nothing will change the way we play our football.”

Mitchell said his side’s performance fell apart in the closing stages.

“There was individualism and selfishness towards the end,” said Mitchell.

“We have to start to focus on the details (of our playing pattern).”

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee praised the Lions for the thrust they displayed with ball in hand.

“We saw what a threat the Lions pose when they dominate,” said Coetzee. “We were physical and showed attitude. It’s the kind of attributes we need to see as we approach the start of the season.

“But there is a lot of things to work on, especially at the breakdown.” Stormers captain Schalk Burger said he was pleased with his side’s performance at the breakdown when his side was on attack.

“We were effective at the breakdown on attack,” said Burger.

“We’ve got to stay on our feet and make sure we’re not falling in the wrong place. It’s important at this stage to get through the matches physically.”

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