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Reds expect tough test from 'unrecognisable' Lions

Reds coach Richard Graham says the Lions are 'unrecognisable' to the team they were

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Article Published: Tuesday 18 March 2014|

The Reds are expecting a tough match this weekend when they face the Lions who they say are "unrecognisable" compared to the team they were two years ago.

The Lions returned to Super Rugby this season and after five matches they are in fourth place having won three matches so far.

The Reds lost more than 60kg of combined body weight in Durban's humidity and will have to acclimatise to high alttitude of Johannesburg quickly if the Reds are to win their third match.

Reds coach Richard Graham says that they travelled early to Johannesburg to get as much preparation in as possible for the Lions who he says are nothing like the team they were before they were relegated.

Graham highlighted Lions number 10 Marnitz Boshoff as an example of the revitalised Lions who had previously been perennial wooden-spoon contenders.

"The 2014 Lions side is unrecognisable to the side from 2012," Graham told AAP.

"They've made a raft of changes in their squad having being relegated last year. (They) have come back with a young group, full of energy and playing a good brand of rugby.

"You've got a young group that don't bear the scars of their previous history."

"You've got a 10 at the moment, whilst he's only four games into his Super Rugby career, he's full of confidence and kicking goals from anywhere, from 60 metres out."

Reds flanker Eddie Quirk agrees with his coach and said that it would be crucial for them to make the most of their limited opportunities to prepare for the conditions that come with playing at altitude.

"The altitude's probably the main thing training-wise that you have to adapt to and it's just a different place," Quirk said.

"The majority of the South African teams are big and physical. That's exactly what we expected from the Sharks and they gave us that. We've got to take the same attributes into this week against the Lions.

"Nothing really changes except we've probably got to perform better."

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