Lions make changes for first Currie Cup match
Share this article:
After the disruption of Covid-19 this past weekend, which led to the cancellation of their Rainbow Cup South Africa match against the Stormers, the Lions will on Friday night return to action in their opening Currie Cup encounter against the Pumas.
It is a much changed side from the team that did most of the heavy lifting during the RCSA, and whether that is due to the vital cluster that broke out in the camp, or a rotational policy employed by coach Ivan van Rooyen, remains unknown.
Nevertheless, the matchday squad that will run out in Mbombela on Friday night (kick-off 7pm) remains a good mix between veterans and youth, granting Van Rooyen a plethora of options in the coming weeks. The side has a familiar backbone to build upon, but will also debut a handful of youngsters to the competition.
Lions fans will be pleased to see Vincent Tshituka in the starting XV after the flanker took a heavy knock to the head in their Sharks encounter a fortnight ago. The 22-year-old has been one of the standout performers for the team in recent seasons, and his stock has risen sharply in the eyes of supporters and pundits alike. The DRC-born No 7 will be joined by the equally exciting prospect that is Sibusiso Sangweni, with captain Francke Horn - now returned from injury - completing a dynamic loose-forward pack that could terrorise their hosts.
The often overlooked Jamba Ulengo and Dillon Smit also make a welcome return in the No 14 and No 9 jumpers, respectively, while the Bone Collector, Willem Alberts, will add much needed grunt and experience to the forwards. Fred Zeilinga will marshall the backline as the flyhalf with teenage sensation Jordan Hendrikse, co-opted into the Baby Bok setup for the next few weeks.
Morne Brandon, Banele Mthenjane, Ruhan Straeuli, Emmanuel Tshituka and Aidynn Cupido will make their Currie Cup debuts from the bench.
Lions Starting XV: EW Viljoen; Jamba Ulengo, Manuel Rass, Dan Kriel, Rabz Maxwane; Fred Zeilinga, Dillon Smit; Francke Horn (capt) , Vincent Tshituka, Sibusiso Sangweni, Reinhard Nothnagel, Willem Alberts, Carlu Sadie, PJ Botha, Nathan McBeth; Replacements: Morne Brandon, Banele Mthenjane, Ruan Dreyer, Ruhan Straeuli, Emmanuel Tshituka, Ross Cronjé, Aidynn Cupido, Duncan Matthews