Lions could upset NZ Super Rugby hopes - Gold

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Monday, July 11, 2016    Getty Images

Gold said the Lions and the Stormers still had a good chance of claiming the title.
He said statistically the 2016 season had been one of the better years for South African sides in the competition and at the business end of the season it was the sides least disrupted by injury who were set to come out on top.

While the Stormers had a chance, he believed the fact they had not played any New Zealand teams during the season, a quirk of the draw, could count against them.

But the Lions were a different prospect.

"The Lions are playing an impressive brand of rugby and, if they continue on the right track, are bound to hold their play-off fixtures at Ellis Park, which is an intimidating venue for visiting teams," Gold said.

To achieve that and to finish top of the minor competition, the Lions have to beat the Jaguares away in Buenos Aires at the weekend.

The Lions had put time and energy into the style of game they wanted to play.

"Lions coach Johan Ackermann slowly but surely set about putting a blueprint together in terms of the way they wanted to play and understood the type of personnel needed in order to play that kind of game, which is critically important," he said.

The Lions were now a smart team with first five-eighths Elton Jantjies directing the side well.

"The Lions play from deep and have a penchant for spreading the ball wide. However, when the opportunity doesn't afford itself, Ackermann's men will ensure that they move the game from a high-risk area, even if it means they have to sacrifice possession for a period of time.

"The Lions have discovered the correct blueprint, but the million rand question is: are we big and mature enough in South African rugby in order to share that ideology?"

Gold said the reason New Zealand sides dominated Super Rugby was because of the collective spirit they enjoyed in preparation.

"New Zealand really is a country that sings off the same hymn sheet and their structures are sound.

"When the five New Zealand franchises battle between the four white lines, it's gloves off, but their first task is to see that their teams perform really well. And, as a consequence, internally the competition is higher," he said.

"The fact that they filter their intellectual property throughout their franchises is the way forward for South Rugby."

Gold felt South Africa was getting closer to having information-sharing and he had taken part in meetings of a type never held before with other coaches.