Johannesburg – Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann said on Thursday he had chosen a five-two split between forwards and backs on the bench for an expected onslaught from the Blue Bulls pack in their Currie Cup match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
“The Bulls will obviously bring a big onslaught up front and being able to bring on fresh legs will be in our favour,” he said.
“So, we've been able to choose a specialist lock and Willie Britz covers both lock and flank, so it's a really good mix. It's going to be very hard at forward, so we've gone with five forwards on the bench to bring fresh legs on.
“We expect a big physical onslaught, we're ready for it and if the game becomes loose then Willie can do some damage. He's shown how he can turn games in the second half.”
Springbok Sevens cap and former Natal Sharks wing Mark Richards could make his Lions debut off the bench, while centre Howard Mnisi, a recent signing from Griquas, is the only other back on the replacements bench.
Ackermann named hooker Armand van der Merwe, prop Jacques van Rooyen, lock Martin Muller, utility forward Britz and loose forward Kwagga Smith as the other five substitutes for Saturday's local derby.
The Lions coach said he had also decided to hand the captaincy armband to Derick Minnie, who returns to the starting line-up at eighthman.
“I rely a lot on the captain to set the tone and Derick has done that before. The one with the armband speaks to the referee and to us 1/8the coaching staff 3/8, but I want leadership from the players in general, which is why we have unit leaders for the scrums, lineouts and backs,” Ackermann explained.
Minnie replaced Britz at eighthman, while the other change sees experienced former Bulls hooker Willie Wepener come into the front row in place of Van der Merwe.
Ackermann said he was pleased to welcome Jaco van der Walt back into the flyhalf position.
“We saw a lot of potential in him and it's good to have him back so we can continue our development of him. He's a specialist flyhalf so hopefully we'll have more flow, and he's kicked well in training.
“There are definitely areas and times when you need to relieve the pressure with a kick and Jaco has a long boot. That's in our favour and will definitely be a factor if things are not going well for us.”
The other change to the Lions team sees Ruan Combrinck moving from fullback to replace Courtnall Skosan on the wing, with Coetzee moving from flyhalf to fullback.
Lions: Andries Coetzee, Lionel Mapoe, Stokkies Hanekom, Alwyn Hollenbach, Ruan Combrinck, Jaco van der Walt, Ross Cronje, Derick Minnie, Warwick Tecklenburg, Jaco Kriel, Franco Mostert, MB Lusaseni, Ruan Dreyer, Willie Wepener, Schalk van der Merwe. Replacements: Armand van der Merwe, Jacques van Rooyen, Martin Muller, Willie Britz, Kwagga Smith, Mark Richards, Howard Mnisi. – Sapa