Willem Alberts: Lack of experience costing Lions in URC

Willem Alberts: Lack of experience costing Lions in URC

Veteran Lions utility forward Willem Alberts has identified a lack of experience in their ranks as a reason for their struggles in this season's United Rugby Championship.

The Johannesburg-based outfit have found the going tough in the URC of late and are currently languishing in 14th position in the standings after losing their last four matches against the Sharks, Stormers, Munster and Connacht.

Alberts, who represented South Africa as a loose forward in 43 Tests between 2010 and 2016, is one of three Springboks in the Lions squad, along with Jaco Kriel and Andries Coetzee, but pertinently all three are not current Boks.

The Lions recently returned from a four-match tour to Europe but apart from those two URC defeats to Munster and Connacht, they also suffered a loss to Stade Francais in the Challenge Cup and only registered a win against the Dragons which secured them a place in the latter competition's round of 16.

"We didn't have enough experience on tour," Alberts told Sport24.

"There still a lot of young guys and some of our coaching staff that are new to European conditions. So it's definitely something to learn from. We just hope we're better next time."

The 38-year-old, who currently plies his trade as a second-row, highlighted the importance of consistency for his team.

"You must be able to play good rugby week-for-week," said Alberts.

"It's about adapting to training and playing conditions. We've been exposed to synthetic pitches now for some time and it's perhaps time to feel more comfortable with them."

Despite his advancing years the man known as the 'Bone Collector' will be part of the Lions set-up for the rest of the season and despite results not going their way, he said he enjoyed the trip.

"My body is feeling really good," he added.

"It was great to be on tour again because you never know whether it will be your last one. In fact, you have to enjoy it like you'll always have your last one. We had a lot of fun off the field too.

"I really tried to play the games as hard as I can, even if the results didn't always go our way."