New Super Rugby challenges excite Lions

Warren Whiteley says the Lions are excited about the 2016 format

Lions loose forward Warren Whiteley says that the team are excited about playing Super Rugby teams in new territories like Japan and Argentina.

Whiteley says that the addition of Argentina’s Jaguares and Japan’s Sunwolves have helped to create more excitement in the squad.

Super Rugby will have a new look in 2016 as the number of teams has been increased to 18 instead of 15 .

Los Jaguares and the Sunwolves are set to provide unique challenges. The Southern Kings, South Africa’s Eastern Cape franchise that competed in a memorable campaign in 2013, complete the 18-team competition.

The Lions will face the Sunwolves in their tournament opener in Tokyo, Japan on February 27 and they will also compete against Los Jaguares in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 16 July.

Whiteley said his teammates are excited to face these new challenges.

“There are many unknowns ahead of this year’s Super Rugby season, which creates plenty of excitement,” Whiteley told MyPlayers.

“For most of our players, it will be their first time playing rugby in Japan and Argentina.

“We will need to rely on the experience of those who have played in these regions before. Guys like Elton Jantjies, Lionel Mapoe and Warwick Tecklenburg, who play for Japanese clubs, will give us insight into the Japanese game and conditions.

“Our match in Argentina will be another interesting encounter. Coach Akkers (Johan Ackermann) has experience of playing there before, while a few Springboks and former Junior Springboks have toured to South America too.

“This will be vital during our preparations. We know the Jaguares will play an attacking brand of rugby.”

The Lions returned to training on Thursday last week. The team’s pre-season training has been affected by the heatwave that hit South Africa in January, which has forced a few schedule changes.

“The heat has been a problem in Johannesburg, so we have started practice earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon. This has made a positive difference,” explained Whiteley.

“The guys have returned refreshed after a good break from rugby. We are looking forward to building on the success we achieved last season. We want to improve week by week during Super Rugby.”

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