JOHANNESBURG - The Lions are unbeaten in three outings in this year’s Currie Cup but they will face their biggest test this weekend when they host Western Province at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The visitors from the Cape also have a blemish-free record, having played two games, and according to Free State coach Daan Human they are the hot favourites for the title at the halfway mark in the competition.
“Every team has its qualities, but I think at this point Western Province are looking very dangerous. "To go to Nelspruit and beat the Pumas, like they did a few days ago, takes some doing,” said Human after his side’s loss to the Lions last Saturday.
The Lions have beaten Griquas (62-41), the Bulls (38-35) and Cheetahs (47-14) so far, while Western Province have picked up wins against the Cheetahs (32-0) and the Pumas (57-28).
Cheetahs captain Rudy Paige also felt the men from the Cape had something special, but he wasn’t prepared to make them favourites for the title this season. “Anyone of the four (Bulls, Sharks, WP and Lions) could win the competition,” he said.
“The Lions play with tempo, the Sharks are physical, and Western Province have the X-factor. The thing is any one of those teams can beat the other team on the day; the race is wide open.”
The Lions will welcome back Springbok fullback Andries Coetzee this week after he was rested for the match against the Free State. In his place Sylvian Mahuza had a field day; he scored two tries and looked full of running in a stunning backline display from the Lions.
Mahuza though might have to move back to the wing to take the place of Madosh Tambwe who left the field on Saturday with a suspected broken or sprained ankle. He underwent several scans and X-rays on Monday to determine the extent of the injury with a diagnosis expected to be made known today.
In the only other expected change to the team than ran out last weekend, prop Johannes Jonker could be back after sitting out last week with concussion. Springbok lock Marvin Orie will again lead the side, which will also include discarded Bok centre Lionel Mapoe. Coach Ivan van Rooyen will name his lineup for the match on Thursday. Saturday’s game kicks off at 3pm.