Marais urges Lions to pick Boks

Date published: July 11 2016

Bulls head coach Nollis Marais has advised Lions counterpart Johan Ackermann to play his first-choice XV against the Jaguares on Saturday.

There's been talk that the Super Rugby leaders might rotate so they're fresh for the knockout stage, thus risking their route to a home final.

But Marais, whose side played the Jaguares in Argentina two weeks ago, believes it would be foolish of Ackermann to not start his best XV.

"I would play the Boks‚" he told Times Live ahead of the final game of the regular-season, which takes place at Vélez Sarsfield, Buenos Aires.

"The problem with travelling there is that it is a 26-hour travel‚ and you must hope it doesn't rain. It is difficult to travel back [home] and play. The most difficult game is the one after the trip to Argentina."

Bulls head coach Marais added on their own experience in Argentina: "We only arrived around midday on Monday and didn't do anything (training)‚ and only got the guys ready again on the Tuesday. It is a very difficult trip. I understand why he would want to [rest his players]."

Ackermann is clearly considering doing just that, despite recent big wins over the Sharks and Kings when they looked a fresh line-up.

"We are grateful that we got through the game injury-free‚" he said following the 57-21 victory over the Port Elizabeth side last Friday.

"We have demanded a lot of pressure from the guys. That is the one part I must look at‚ as much as the physical part of having played 80-minute games for the most part.

"I have to trust that [second-choice] players can play – all the guys in those positions. We have got the depth‚ it is only a matter of when is the right time to make that decision and back it.

"We have to sit down and see what risks we want to take‚ and which we don’t want to take."