PRETORIA - Springbok and Lions star centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg will make an emotional return to the field after months of being on the sidelines due to injury, his mother’s death and a traumatic kidnapping when he features for the Golden Lions in their SuperSport Rugby Challenge semi-final encounter against Griquas at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium in East London on Saturday.
Janse Van Rensburg will be part of a formidable Lions team that is littered with stars with Super Rugby experience in the hope of marching on to the final against either Western Province or the Blue Bulls in the inaugural season of the domestic competition that includes Namibia’s Welwitschias.
The Lions topped the north section of the competition with complete dominance where they lost only one of their eight matches and they will come face-to-face with a Griquas team that did well to finish on top of the central section which included the likes of the Sharks and Free State Cheetahs.
Griquas won’t be pushovers after they also managed to lose only one of their eight matches but hit a slight speed hump when they drew against the Sharks two weeks ago at home.
In the other semi-final it will be the rekindling of old rivals in another mouthwatering edition of the north south derby between Western Province and the Blue Bulls with the men from Cape Town also boasting of a few healthy sprinklings of players with Super Rugby experience.
Western Province will come into the semi-finals with an unblemished slate after breezing through the south section unbeaten in their eight matches while the men from the capital earned their place in the play-offs after being the best second placed finisher in all sections.
The Bulls on the other hand have a healthy mix of experience and youth with notable current and former Junior Springboks in fullback Manie Libbok and JT Jackson while wing Kefentse Mahlo, centre Dries Swanepoel and captain and flank Abongile Nonkontwana have had a taste of Super Rugby as well.
In the spirit of taking rugby back to the communities, all of the semi-finals will be played in Mdatsane which is regarded as the Mecca of boxing in the country but is also the spiritual home of rugby in the Border region with local club Swallows hosting Old Selbornians in a Super League match which will be the curtainraiser
Tafel Lager Griquas vs Xerox Golden Lions XV (semi-final)
Xerox Golden Lions XV: Jaco van der Walt, Madosh Tambwe, Jan-Louis la Grange, Jarryd Sage, Anthony Volmink, Shaun Reynolds, Dillon Smit, Jano Venter (captain), Fabian Booysen, James Venter, Marvin Orie, Bobby de Wee, Justin Ackerman, Robbie Coetzee, Sti Sithole.
Replacements: Pieter Jansen, Pieter Scholtz, Rhyno Herbst, Hacjivah Dayimani, Marco Jansen van Vuren, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Ashlon Davids.
Tafel Lager Griquas:
Eric Zana, Ederies Arendse, Kyle Steyn, Tertius Kruger, AJ Coertzen (captain), George Whitehead, Christiaan Meyer, Jason Fraser, Sias Koen, Wendal Wehr, Pieter Janse van Vuuren, FP Pelser, Ewald van der Westhuizen, AJ le Roux, Liam Hendricks.
Replacements: Marius Fourie, Nicolaas Oosthuizen, Jonathan Adendorf, Jonathan Janse van Rensburg, Renier Botha, André Swarts, Enver Brandt.
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
DHL Western Province vs Vodacom Blue Bulls (semi-final)
DHL Western Province: Craig Barry, Khanyo Ngcukana, Michal Hazner, Ruhan Nel, Marcello Sampson, Kurt Coleman, Godlen Masimla, Jaco Coetzee, Johan du Toit, Eital Bredenkamp (captain), Eduard Zandberg, Jurie van Vuuren, Michael Kumbirai, Chad Solomon, Caylib Oosthuizen. Replacements: Dean Muir, Frans van Wyk, Ruben de Villiers, Luke Stringer, Herschel Jantjies, Brandon Thomson, Grant Hermanus.
Vodacom Blue Bulls: Manie Libbok, Dewald Naude, Dries Swanepoel, JT Jackson, Kefentse Mahlo, Joshua Stander, Ivan van Zyl, Clyde Davids, Abongile Nonkontwana (captain), Marco van Staden, Aston Fortuin, Freddy Ngoza, Neethling Fouche, Alandre van Rooyen, Njabulo Gumede
Replacements: Jan-Henning Campher, Andrew Beerwinkel, Marius Verwey, Luigy van Jaarsveld, Theo Maree, Kurt Webster, Franco Naude
Referee: AJ Jacobs