Lions purr with pride as they sign backline ‘backbone’ again: ‘We’re so happy to have them’

Jordan Hendrikse and Morne van den Berg. (Photo by Richard Huggard/Gallo Images)

  • Lions full-backs coach Ricardo Loubscher is “happy to have” two gifted half-backs in Morne van den Berg and Jordan Hendrikse as backline talismans.
  • Encouragingly, both players are also happy with how the franchise will handle them signing contract extensions last week.
  • But Loubscher notes that while the duo could easily rely on their talent, they really are hard workers.

The cornerstones of the Lions’ future in the United Rugby Championship (URC) are also the team’s two hardest-working players.

It’s no wonder, then, that the contract extensions given to half-back duo Morne “Krappie” van den Berg and Jordan Hendrikse last week generated a lot of excitement at Ellis Park.

As the Lions’ campaign draws to a close – starting with a meeting with Glasgow Warriors at home on Saturday – the hope now is that the dynamic duo celebrate their longer stay at Doornfontein with performances that will not only add respectability to the current campaign, but will establish a platform. for 2022/23.

Van den Berg, 24, in particular, has improved his game considerably since becoming the team’s first-choice number 9.

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“For the last four games or so it’s been all about alignment between ‘Krappie’, Jordan and (20-year-old full-back) Quan Horn,” said Ricardo Loubscher, the backs and techniques coach of the Leos.

“These three men, to be honest, are already the backbone of our backline. They’re still young and they’re learning, but I think what we’re doing well is just getting the basics right.”

It just means keeping things simple.

“It’s just the little things, like understanding what’s associated with a fast ball versus a slower ball and how to make decisions based on that,” Loubscher said.

“Also, we just want this trio to bring their strengths to the game. We’ve seen them bring a lot of excitement and energy up front.”

With Sanele Nohamba – who has yet to be officially revealed as the Lions’ new signing but started training with his new teammates this week – swelling the ranks of good half-backs, there is reason to to be optimistic.

“As coaches we’re really happy to have them. Obviously there was a lot to learn from the loss to the Sharks (two weeks ago) but what’s really nice is that they’re using their opportunities,” Loubscher said.

“A guy like ‘Krappie’ came in and made his first start in a while and really took his chance. He’s probably one of the hardest working players on our team. He’s a great example to set.”

Kick-off on Saturday is at 4:05 p.m.

Charles P. Patton