JOHANNESBURG – In an effort to change the team’s fortunes, Lions coach Swys de Bruin has made a few interesting changes to his side for Saturday’s Currie Cup match against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
The key change comes at flyhalf, where Ashlon Davids comes in for Jaco van der Walt, who has moved to fullback for the match.
The 24-year-old Davids, who originally comes from Malmesbury, has been on the fringes of selection for some time, but has ultimately had to stand behind Elton Jantjies, Van der Walt and Shaun Reynolds in the queue for the No 10 jersey.
He will, however, get his chance in Bloemfontein.
“Ashlon has been training well and he deserves his chance,” said De Bruin on Thursday when he named his line-up for the match.
“He’s got all the skills... skills like Elton’s got, he talks well and communicates strongly, too. We’ve got some quality flyhalves here, if you also consider Shaun Reynolds.”
Twenty-one-year-old James Venter, the KwaZulu-Natal schoolboy star who is studying law at UJ, is also a new player at No 6 flank, while on the bench, hooker Pieter Jansen, lock Rhyno Herbst and scrumhalf Bradley Thain get their first starts at Currie Cup level.
There is also place among the replacements for journeyman prop Jacobie Adriaanse and centre Stokkies Hanekom.
“Jacobie is back with us after five years away,” said De Bruin. “He’s joined us from the Bulls until after next year’s Super Rugby campaign, so we’re excited about him being back here.
“He’s a player who understands our culture and he’s very much like (injured) Julian Redelinghuys in the way he goes about his business.
“And Stokkies has always been on our books... he was just on loan at the Kings earlier this year.”
The Lions are desperate to get back to winning ways after registering just one win in five outings so far in the Currie Cup.
But De Bruin said on Thursday he was also using the competition to build his depth ahead of next year’s Super Rugby competition.
“We’ve got 19 guys out... who’re either with the Boks, in Japan, overseas or injured, so the positive with that is that I can give a number of players a chance in the Currie Cup,” said De Bruin, who took over from the now departed Johan Ackermann just three weeks ago.
“We’re using this campaign to look at our depth with an eye on the Super Rugby competition. A lot of youngsters from our high-performance system are involved, and they’re doing well and deserve a chance,” said De Bruin.
“In some positions we’re down to the fourth, fifth and sixth choice, but that’s how it works in sport sometimes.”
The Lions will make a final call on loosehead prop and captain Jacques van Rooyen before the game after he injured his calf against Western Province last weekend.
Jaco van der Walt, Sylvian Mahuza, Harold Vorster, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Antony Volmink, Ashlon Davids, Marco Jansen van Vuren, Fabian Booysen, Cyle Brink, James Venter, Marvin Orie, Andries Ferreira, Jacques van Rooyen (captain), Robbie Coetzee, Corné Fourie.
Bench: Pieter Jansen, Jacobie Adriaanse, Rhyno Herbst, Hacjivah Dayimani, Bradley Thain, Stokkies Hanekom, Aphiwe Dyantyi.