Lions call on ‘angry warthog’ Akker

Super Rugby

JOHANNESBURG – The Lions’ under-rated, but hugely potent first-choice front row have been given some “time off” for Friday’s round nine Super Rugby match against the Jaguares at Ellis Park.

Coach Johan Ackermann has opted to rest Stormers slayers Ruan Dreyer, Malcolm Marx and Jacques van Rooyen, who’ll all play off the bench against the men from South America.

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Hooker Akker van der Merwe will bring some fire to the Lions front row. Photo: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePixAndries Coetzee has been passed fit to face the Jaguares. Photo: Gerhard Steenkamp, BackpagePix

They have featured as the starting front row in the majority of the Lions’ matches this season.

Starting in their places will be former Border rookie Johannes Jonker, “the angry warthog” Akker van der Merwe, and the unmovable Corné Fourie.

They are the only changes to the pack that did so well against the Stormers at Newlands last weekend.

Taking his place on the side of the scrum will be Jaco Kriel, who was cleared to play on Wednesday after appearing before a judicial hearing following his late charge on Stormers No 10 Rob du Preez last Saturday.

Kriel, who received a yellow card for the incident at Newlands – when he tried to charge down a clearance kick by Du Preez – pleaded not guilty to the charge and therefore had to defend himself in front of a disciplinary panel.

That was not the only good news the Lions received on Wednesday. Fullback Andries Coetzee passed a concussion test, while Ruan Ackermann was also given the all-clear after hurting his left knee against the Stormers.

The only change among the backs is at inside centre, where Harold Vorster starts ahead of Rohan Janse van Rensburg, who he replaced early on at Newlands after the latter picked up a knee injury.

Janse van Rensburg saw a knee specialist on Wednesday afternoon to determine the extent of the ligament damage in his right knee.

The Lions are expected to announce on Thursday the duration of the powerful centre’s absence from the game.

Ackermann will hope no further issues affect his midfielders after Howard Mnisi was ruled out of action for the season earlier in the competition.

Jacques Nel, who’s been in the Lions set-up for a while and is the brother of Sevens star Ruhan, has moved on to the bench.

Andries Coetzee has been passed fit to face the Jaguares. Photo: Gerhard Steenkamp, BackpagePix

The Lions go into Friday’s game on the back of an impressive bonus-point win against the Stormers; their sixth victory in seven outings this season, while the Jaguares are coming off a defeat by the Bulls.

Earlier in the campaign, though, the Jaguares got the better of a weakened Lions side in Buenos Aires, winning 36-24 – the Lions’ only loss so far.

Jaguares coach Raul Perez made five changes to his team for the match against the Bulls last weekend, with star flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez playing off the bench – Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias started – but he is expected back at No 10 for the Lions match.

Perez will name his side on Thursday.

Lions Team

Andries Coetzee, Madosh Tambwe, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronjé, Warren Whiteley (captain), Ruan Ackermann, Jaco Kriel, Franco Mostert, Andries Ferreira, Johannes Jonker, Akker van der Merwe, Corné Fourie.

Bench: Malcolm Marx, Ruan Dreyer, Jacques van Rooyen, Lourens Erasmus, Kwagga Smith, Faf de Klerk, Jacques Nel, Sylvian Mahuza.

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