Munster coach impressed with Bulls and Lions power and size: ‘It’s unfair’

Elrigh Louw. (Photo by Brendan Moran/Gallo Images)

  • Munster assistant coach Graham Rowntree believes the treadmill of hulking players that SA boasts is almost “unfair”.
  • The old England prop highlighted the size of the Lions and Bulls packs.
  • But he also says the Irish club, who arrive on tour next week, are ready for the two-week onslaught.

Whether he’s just creating hype or genuinely impressed is a moot point, but Munster’s assistant coach Graham Rowntree highlighted the size of the Lions and Bulls packs they will face on their South African tour of the United Rugby Championship from next week.

A powerful former England stalwart himself, the 50-year-old, has in fact said the abundance of towering physical specimens in the local game borders on “unfair”.

“Watch Lions games and see the size of their squad. It’s not fair. It’s not fair,” Rowntree told Irish broadcaster RTE.

“They’re huge men, and that’s a real strength of their game, the Lions. So that’s what we have to deal with in the Lions game.

“The Bulls, physical breakdown. They have a physical backline. Big men run you really fast on the Highveld. It’s a bit of a different challenge than what we’re normally used to, but it’s a challenge for which we will be ready.

“But we’re just training for that. We’ve done that before.”

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The Lions first-choice front line of Sti Sithole, Jaco Visagie and Carlu Sadie have indeed been an impressive unit, particularly at scrum time, while the Bulls’ loose trio of Marcell Coetzee, Arno Botha and Elrigh Louw oozed punching power.

More importantly, Rowntree warned his charges that Gauteng’s two franchises will be much more competitive on their home turf than their newspaper positions – the Bulls are 11th and the Lions 14th – currently reflect.

“I have no doubt that at home they will be good against us,” he said.

“They will be waiting for us. There will be good places where our lads can go and challenge each other, play rugby against the best teams in the best stadiums in a great country.

“It’s a country I’ve been to more than any other country on the planet. It’s a great rugby country.

“[Our players will] know what to expect from the analysis we showed them. The physique is undeniable with the South African teams.

“You know what’s coming. But it’s another thing to try to manage this. It will be a real test of the basics of our game.”

Munster, who have former Bulls and Springbok assistant Johann van Graan as head coach, are fourth.

Charles P. Patton