JOHANNESBURG – The Lions get their 2018 Currie Cup challenge underway this evening with several young stars looking to make a big impression. At the same time, some senior Super Rugby stars will be hoping for a good few weeks as they look to get back into the good books of national coach Rassie Erasmus.
Centres Jan-Louis la Grange and Manny Rass, loose-forwards Hacjivah Dayimani, James Venter and Len Massyn, lock Rhyno Herbst and flyhalf Shaun Reynolds, among the starters, are some of the young players out to impress.
Springbok stars Andries Coetzee, Courtnall Skosan, Ross Cronje and Marvin Orie are the senior men the Lions will be banking on to get the team on the front foot in the coming weeks, while the specific individuals will also want to show Erasmus they should be in the national squad.
Flyhalf Reynolds is one player hoping to make the most of the chance in front of him. The 23-year-old gets his chance with Elton Jantjies involved with the Boks.
“I’m excited where I am now and ready for this opportunity,” said the former Goudveld High School pupil.
Reynolds said he’d learned a great deal from Jantjies and was now hoping to make it count on the field. “It’s been so good to have Elton around over the last few years. I’ve learned so much from him, with him having played over 100 Super Rugby matches.
“I’ve always looked up to him, his ability to lead a team he’s an excellent player and everyone can learn from him.”
Reynolds added that his attacking prowess is what makes him a unique player. “I can bring X-factor (to the game),” he said. “I back my kicking, attacking, and defence; I just really want to give positive things to the team.”
The competition opener against Griquas, which kicks off at 7pm tonight, is also a first for new head coach Ivan van Rooyen. The conditioning specialist has been given a chance to learn and hone his skills in the Currie Cup while regular boss Swys de Bruin is on duty with the Boks.
“I’m not here to reinvent the wheel,” said Van Rooyen earlier in the week. “We’re just going to continue playing the Lions brand of rugby and do the things that we’ve become known for. It’s really about me simply managing the process.”
“The Griquas are a solid team with a strong set-piece, but we’re all looking forward to getting out there again and playing.”
The men from Kimberley have already played a game in this year’s shortened format, having gone down to the Pumas in Nelspruit last Friday.
The teams are:
Andries Coetzee, Sylvain Mahuza, Jan-Louis la Grange, Manny Rass, Courtnall Skosan, Shaun Reynolds, Ross Cronje, Hacjivah Dayimani, Len Massyn, James Venter, Marvin Orie, Rhyno Herbst, Johannes Jonker, Corne Fourie, Sti Sithole. Replacements: HP van Schoor, Jacobie Adriaanse, PJ Steenkamp, Vincent Tshituka, Dillon Smit, Tyrone Green, Wandile Simelane
Eric Zana, Ederies Arendse, Kyle Steyn (capt), Christopher Bosch, AJ Coertzen, George Whitehead, Christiaan Meyer, Conway Pretorius, Sias Koen, Wendal Wehr, Pieter van Vuren, Sintu Manjezi, Nicolaas Oosthuizen, Khwezi Mkhafu, Devon Martinus. Replacements: Wilmar Arnoldi, Ruan Kramer, Wandile Putuma, Eital Bredenkamp, Zak Burger, Jonathan Janse van Rensburg, Andre Swarts