Johannesburg – Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann surprised on Thursday by selecting fullback Andries Coetzee at inside centre for their Currie Cup match against Griquas at Ellis Park on Saturday.
“Andries has showed that he can attack, he is surprisingly strong, he has a good step and he is good in contact,” Ackermann said at the team announcement in Johannesburg on Thursday.
“We've seen this weekend that the 12 channel is targeted, so we needed someone that is more in the face there.”
Ackermann said the regular fullback was comfortable in the midfield where he played before the Lions moved him to the last line of defence.
Chrysander Botha will switch to fullback and Deon Helberg will start on the wing.
Among the forwards, prop Jacques van Rooyen moves into the run-on side at loosehead, while hooker Willie Wepener has also been promoted from the bench with Julian Redelinghuys rounding off the frontrow.
Newly-capped Springbok lock Franco van der Merwe returns to the side, while Warwick Tecklenburg will start at six.
Meanwhile, new inclusions on the bench, Bees Roux and Lambert Groenewald, will provide cover for the forwards.
The Lions are fourth on the Currie Cup log on 21 points and could miss out on a playoff spot if they were to lose against the bottom-of-the-log Griquas.
It is, however, unlikely that the Peacock Blues would upset the applecart as coach Pote Human selected a weakened side with an eye on the promotion/relegation matches against the Pumas.
Ackermann said while some decisions have gone against his side this season he believed they were deserving of their position on the table.
“There were a few decisions that didn't go our way, but we should have been better than that,” Ackermann said.
“We are happy with the way we played but if you are not going to close games...I suppose you do not deserve to end up first or second (on the log).”
The Lions mentor said he did not think the Griquas team were weakened by resting some of their regular starting players.
“Some of their key players may be out but there are also players that come in that are their number-one choices like Louwrens Adriaanse, Ligtoring Landman and Hanru van Niekerk.
“Our whole season is dependant on Saturday, so we can't underestimate their team, because we could then be in danger of taking another knock and be the joke of the year.”
Golden Lions team: Chrysander Botha, Deon Helberg, Lionel Mapoe, Andries Coetzee, Anthony Volmink, Marnitz Boshoff, Michael Bondesio, Warren Whiteley, Derick Minnie (captain), Warwick Tecklenburg, Franco van der Merwe, Chris van Zyl, Julian Redelinghuys, Willie Wepener, Jacques van Rooyen. Replacements:
Robbie Coetzee, Bees Roux, Lambert Groenewald, Willie Britz, Ross Cronje, Lionel Cronje, Kobus de Kock. – Sapa