Cape Town – There will be some respite for the under-fire Lions Currie Cup team as the Bulls have selected a match-23 with only one regular United Rugby Championship player for Saturday’s derby clash at Loftus Versfeld (5pm kickoff).
Coach Gert Smal – who returns to the hot seat after missing last week’s Griquas game with an illness – has opted to test the depth of the union this time around, although it will still be a formidable line-up.
Only lock Janko Swanepoel has had constant URC game-time, but many others have been part of Jake White’s team as well.
A new face is left wing Kabelo Mokoena, a 22-year-old who made his Currie Cup debut in last year’s competition.
But there are some interesting combinations in the backline in particular. Scrumhalf Keagan Johannes has been in excellent form whenever he’s been on the pitch in 2022, and he will look to continue pushing his claims for more URC game-time alongside talented young flyhalf Juan Mostert, who is highly rated by White, but hasn’t had much action this season.
Centre pair Marco Jansen van Vuren and Stedman Gans are well accustomed to senior-level rugby, and could also use the Lions encounter to remind White of their abilities.
Utility back David Kriel has almost become the forgotten man at Loftus Versfeld, as he hasn’t featured much this year after starring at fullback in two Currie Cup-winning campaigns. He finds himself at right wing this weekend.
Smal has quite a young pack of forwards, but they will be led in the fight for possession by a highly experienced front row of captain Lizo Gqoboka at loosehead prop, hooker Bismarck du Plessis and tighthead Dylan Smith.
15 James Verity-Amm 14 David Kriel 13 Stedman Gans 12 Marco Jansen van Vuren 11 Kabelo Mokoena 10 Juan Mostert 9 Keagan Johannes 8 Muller Uys 7 Reinhardt Ludwig 6 Jaco Labuschagne 5 Janko Swanepoel 4 Raynard Roets 3 Dylan Smith 2 Bismarck du Plessis 1 Lizo Gqoboka (captain).
Bench: 16 Sidney Tobias 17 Cebo Dlamini 18 Francois Kloppers 19 Ruan Delport 20 Stephan Smith 21 Bernard van der Linde 22 Diego Appollis 23 Richard Kriel.