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‘Bone Collector’ warns Lions needs injection of experience or wayward results will remain

Willem Alberts. (Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile/Gallo Images)

Willem Alberts. (Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile/Gallo Images)

  • Lions stalwart Willem Alberts has intimated that the franchise’s inconsistent results will continue if there isn’t an injection of experience.
  • The team only boasted three internationals out of a touring squad of 29 and lacks players with proven class and vast knowledge of European conditions.
  • Alberts though says he really enjoyed the tour and his rugby, suggesting he’s willing to stick it out in the short-term still. 

Lions veteran Willem Alberts has hinted that the franchise faces a period of continued inconsistency if it doesn’t receive an injection of experience.

The 38-year-old former Springbok bruiser was one of only few players on the side’s gruelling and ultimately unsuccessful tour, where they only had a Challenge Cup victory over the Dragons to boast about from four starts.

While the Lions hierarchy have pointed out before – rightly perhaps – that their recruitment strategy is predicated on signing players who’ll be of national interest post the 2023 World Cup, they only had three players with international experience in their 29-man touring squad.

Tellingly, none of them – Alberts, Jaco Kriel and Andries Coetzee – are current Boks.

As a consequence, wayward results like Saturday night’s 43-24 loss to Connacht, less than a week after the notable triumph in Newport will occur steadfastly because of the imbalance in proven class and wisdom.

READ | Hapless Lions end tour with Connacht loss in URC try-fest

“We didn’t have enough experience on tour,”  said Alberts.

“There still a lot young guys and some of our coaching staff that are new to European conditions. So it’s definitely something to learn from. We just hope we’re better next time.” 

But patience is surely now running out.

“You must be able to play good rugby week-for-week,” said Alberts.

“It’s about adapting to training and playing conditions. We’ve been exposed to synthetic pitches now for some time and it’s perhaps time to feel more comfortable with them.” 

At least, for now, the Lions can count on the ‘Bone Collector’s’ presence and guidance for the rest of the campaign as he expressed how much he enjoyed the trip.

“My body is feeling really good,” he said.

“It was great to be on tour again because you never know whether it will be your last one. In fact, you have to enjoy it like you’ll always have your last one. We had a lot of fun off the field too.

“I really tried to play the games as hard as I can, even if the results didn’t always go our way.”   

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