Speculation has arisen that de Bruin had some sort of falling out with his squad, but the coach has insisted that he returned early to South Africa for treatment on a stress-related condition.
The Lions kicked off their two-match New Zealand trip with a win last Friday over the Chiefs in Hamilton and they are preparing to face Crusaders in Christchurch this Friday again without their boss, a situation that has left conditioning coach Ivan van Rooyen handling team preparations.
There has been rumours of a disagreement on team selection with officials at the Lions union, but a message from de Bruin insisted that medical reasons was why he left the squad prior to their opener in Hamilton.
“I give you a 100 per cent guarantee that there is no break between me and anyone at the team or in my team. There was no meddling, orders or pressure from their side,” said de Bruin.
Rugby: Why Lions head coach Swys de Bruin quit NZ tour before victory against Chiefs https://t.co/mzPtJsMHgy
— Wellington105.3fm (@WGTN1053fm) April 21, 2019
“The team knows what I am going through and they support me totally. This is solely a personal, medical situation that I need professional help to sort out.
“The team doctor, after I spoke to my wife and (CEO) Rudolf (Straueli), recommended I head home to get the professional help here. This is what is best for me and the team at the moment.
“The bond between me and my players is of such a sort that I don’t for one moment believe they think I dropped them. In contrast, their support and prayers and positive messages have helped me in this time.
Chiefs v Lions | Super Rugby 2019 Rd 10 Highlights
The @LionsRugbyCo hold off a fast-finishing @ChiefsRugby to score a crucial 23-17 win on the road in Hamilton.#SuperRugby #CHIvLIO pic.twitter.com/cNlsCd3nVC
— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) April 19, 2019
“The passion that they played against the Chiefs should confirm this and I’m very proud of every player and management member.
“I have the fullest confidence in my coaching team and management and I am constantly in contact with them to plan the next game.”
The Lions are running second in the South African conference, just a point before the Bulls after five wins in nine matches.
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