JOHANNESBURG – There’s every chance that if Wandisile Simelane stays fit he’ll wear the Lions No 13 jersey in next year’s Super Rugby campaign ... so plenty of pressure then to deliver the goods in the Currie Cup?
“Not at all, there’s no pressure on me at all,” said the 21-year-old this week. “I can’t fill anyone’s boots next year, not Lionel Mapoe’s or Harold Vorster’s. I’m Wandisile and I can only play like I do, do what I do,” he said.
Simelane has been a constant figure in the Lions Currie Cup team after playing a handful of Super Rugby games earlier this year and he is expected to step up next season and make the transition from juniors and the Currie Cup to Super Rugby and a regular starter. The Lions are, after all, looking for several new players, among them centres, following the departure of a host of men after the 2019 campaign.
“No-one has put any pressure on me to do anything. I was told at the start of the competition to go out there and enjoy myself, and that’s what I’ve been doing. I’m loving life at the moment, I’m very excited about the future and I can’t wait to get more opportunities.”
Well, the next opportunity to show what he can do is around the corner, tomorrow in Kimberley, against the table-topping Griquas. A win for the Lions in the final round-robin fixture would guarantee them a spot in the semi-finals, but a win for Griquas would put them top of the pile and secure them a home semi-final, and possible final.
“There’s so much on the line in this game. It’s awesome Griquas are on top and on a high, what a challenge awaits us,” he said. “There’s no better time to play them than now.
“I can’t wait ... going there, to Kimberley, with the crowd against us ... I just love it.”
Simelane will have a fourth new centre partner for the match, this time Duncan Matthews, who’s just recently joined the Lions from the Bulls.
“The thing is all the guys here at the Lions know each other so well, we’re a small group, and have been playing together for a few years,” said Simelane this week. “We all had turns in the juniors, at U-19 and U21 level, and have trained together so much, so it hasn’t been a problem at all who’s played inside centre.”
The Lions this week welcome back lock Marvin Orie, flank Cyle Brink, prop Dylan Smith and new recruit Jamba Ulengo, who’ll play off the bench after joining the Lions for the next two seasons.
The game kicks off at 3pm.
The Lions team:
Tyrone Green, Madosh Tambwe, Wandisile Simelane, Duncan Matthews, Stean Pienaar, Shaun Reynolds, Ross Cronje, Hacjivah Dayimani, Cyle Brink, Marnus Schoeman, Marvin Orie, Ruben Schoeman, Jacobie Adriaanse, Pieter Jansen, Sti Sithole
Replacements: Jan-Henning Campher, Dylan Smith, Johannes Jonker, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Len Massyn, Dillon Smit, Jan-Louis la Grange, Jamba Ulengo@jacq_west