Lions name exciting team for Currie Cup opener against Griquas
JOHANNESBURG – It must have been a gratifying experience for Golden Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen when he jotted down his matchday squad to face the Griquas in their opening Carling Currie Cup encounter on Saturday (kick off 4.30pm).
Filling in the spaces of his starting XV no doubt brought a smile to his face, the coach inking in a powerful unit that has an exciting mix of youngsters and world-wise veterans. To that end the Lions coach wrote in the names of Springboks Jaco Kriel on the flank, the "Bone Collector" Willem Alberts at lock, and Ruan Dreyer in the frontrow. Carlu Sadie, who packed down with Jaco Visagie and Sti Sithole in the frontrow that dominated the Kimberley-based side during SuperRugby Unlocked, was not considered for selection due to personal reasons.
The match against the Griquas in Kimberley also sees the return of full-back EW Viljoen, who will no doubt be the incumbent in the No 15 jumper in this Currie Cup campaign after the long-term injury to Gianni Lombard last month. In every other department, however, Van Rooyen has stuck to the players who have steadily stepped towards finding form, leveraging the chances of victory on consistency in selection.
That includes the electrifying mid-field pairing of Wandisile Simelane and Burger Odendaal, and the ever-growing kinship developing between scrumhalf Morne van der Berg and captain Elton Jantjies at flyhalf.
Elsewhere, Roelof Smit could get his first action of the season if he is called upon to come off the bench during the encounter.
Xerox Lions vs Tafel Lager Griquas: EW Viljoen; Stean Pienaar, Wandisile Simelane, Burger Odendaal, Courtnall Skosan; Elton Jantjies (capt), Morné van den Berg; Len Massyn, Vincent Tshituka, Jaco Kriel, Marvin Orie, Willem Alberts, Ruan Dreyer, Jaco Visagie, Sti Sithole. Reserves: Jan-Henning Campher, Dylan Smith, Wiehahn Herbst, Reinhard Nothnagel, Roelof Smit, Ross Cronjé, Dan Kriel, Tiaan Swanepoel, Jannie du Plessis, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Manuel Rass