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'You do have to be aware of it': The Reinach threat worrying Lions

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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It’s 22 months since Cobus Reinach last started a Test match for the Springboks and while much has been made this week about how the absence of the injured Faf de Klerk could negatively affect the South Africans, Lions back-rower Courtney Lawes is wary about one particular threat posed by his former Northampton Saints teammate.


The 31-year-old scrum-half moved to Montpellier for the 2020/21 Top season but he left England after three seasons with quite a fearsome reputation from scoring 31 tries in his 77 appearances. That impressive Reinach strike rate hasn’t been forgotten by Lawes ahead of their Cape Town reunion.

Warren Gatland reckons the Lions can feel buoyed by the absence of the soft tissue-affected de Klerk, claiming earlier this week: “It possibly changes the way they [the Springboks] look at things, whether they play more off 10 with (Handre) Pollard as they did last weekend.

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Lions assistant Gregor Townsend about putting the Springboks defence under pressure
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Lions assistant Gregor Townsend about putting the Springboks defence under pressure

“Pollard kicked a lot more in the second Test, so they may revert to that. Faf’s left foot game and the way he defends, everything is on the edge with him and he is pretty feisty,” added the Lions coach about a 29-year-old with 32 caps, 29 as a starter compared to Reinach who only has 14 caps, just five as a starter.”

However, that relative Test level inexperience shouldn’t lull the Lions into thinking they might have things a bit easier this Saturday. Asked about the threat posed by Reinach, Lawes said: “A lot of speed, he has some serious pace.

“When he was with us [Northampton] he scored some pretty ridiculous tries and he will certainly look for the intercept but Dan (Biggar) played with him as well so he is also going to know what is coming at the weekend. A great player and great to see him get a shot. You certainly have to be wary of it [the interception] because that is what he is going to be looking for and because he has got so much pace you can be giving it to the right man and he can still get in the way. You do have to be aware of it. You can’t let it put you off what you want to do in your game plan obviously, but you have to be prepared for it and you have to adjust accordingly.”


Mention of Biggar, the first-choice Lions out-half for the entire Test series in South Africa, Lawes added: “He has gone great. The quality we have in that position shows how well he has gone, how well he is playing. He gives us unbelievable accuracy and a massive voice and experience on the pitch. He will have a massive role to play.”


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