Edinburgh’s game plan for Emirates Lions not limited by altitude challenge, insists Mike Blair
PLAYING at altitude is a challenge but will not limit Edinburgh’s game plan against the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg next Saturday, head coach Mike Blair has said.
The Scottish capital’s men are looking to follow up their excellent victory against Sharks last Saturday (the first victory for a European side in South Africa since the launch of the United Rugby Championship at the start of this season) with Blair plotting a smash- and see you at Ellis Park -1,800 meters above sea level – this coming weekend.
“The initial research we looked at suggested doing 24 hours in Johannesburg and playing the game or spending 10 days acclimating, so we decided to base ourselves in Durban and just travel for the game and go home. us,” he explained. “We will be at altitude, but I don’t want to use that as an excuse or cause for concern.
“With the rugby we want to play, 23° is manageable although there is going to be a bit of a sweat. We trained today in Durban at 27° or 28° and the guys handled that well.”
“We used to do a double session today, units in the morning and a team session in the afternoon, but we condensed it. So, it was intense, but it was a little shorter, and it will still be short on Thursday and Friday, then I hope that we will have plenty in our legs and lungs for Saturday.
The Lions are on a three-game winning streak at home, and their 45-15 hammering against the Ospreys last Frida pushed the South African side back into the mix to make the play-offs at the end of this URC season.
“We are wary of the Lions’ transition attacks on stray balls and giving their outside backs too much space,” Blair said. “The free kick is another area where we think they will try to challenge us, but I think we handled the Sharks scrum well at the end of last week – we dug in and will be looking to do the same this week. ”
“As far as our own game goes, we’re going to have to have a real balance. We’ve had games this year where we’ve had to look at our kicking game, our kicking game and our strong defense, and other games where we’ve been able to move the target, play pace and move the opposition around. So we have to balance those two parts of our game against the Lions based on what we see of their defense and the conditions we’re likely to be playing under.