JOHANNESBURG – After going 12 matches with just seven replacements, the Currie Cup semi-finalists have been allowed to pick eight men on their benches for the knockout games.
Several coaches bemoaned the fact earlier in the season that they were forced to go into games with just one prop, on most occasions, because the seven replacements didn’t allow for two front-row men, plus a hooker, on the bench.
But an intervention by the Lions’ CEO Rudolf Straeuli has resulted in the semi-finalists – the Lions, Sharks, Western Province and Blue Bulls – being allowed to pick two props and a hooker in their match-day squad and not have to give up another “position” on the bench.
“I want to credit Rudolf Straeuli for this,” said Lions coach Swys de Bruin on Thursday when he named his team for Saturday’s semi-final against Western Province at Newlands in Cape Town.
“He contacted the other unions’ CEOs and they agreed that it is better to have a full set of front-row players on the bench. It’s a positive move and it’s good for the safety of everyone involved.”
The Lions have picked an all-star front row for the match, including Bok stars Ruan Dreyer and Malcolm Marx and captain Jacques van Rooyen, while on the bench will sit Robbie Coetzee, Jacobie Adriaanse and Dylan Smith, all seasoned campaigners.
“It’s going to avoid what happened to us a few years ago when the opposition suffered so many injuries that the scrums became uncontested... and no one wants that,” said De Bruin.
In all, the Lions boss has picked five Boks in his team for the trip to Cape Town and a Sevens Bok in Kwagga Smith.
“It’s always difficult in the Cape, and Western Province have been in great form recently, but we’re just approaching it as another game. If we don’t do that, then there’s the likelihood the players will take their focus off the game,” said De Bruin.
“It’s going to be a big challenge for us, but we’re all very excited. The vibe in the squad is incredible, it’s very positive. The Boks have certainly raised the level in the team, and their attitude has been unreal.”
Saturday’s match kicks off at 5pm.
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 13 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Kwagga Smith, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Len Massyn, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen (captain).
Bench: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Rhyno Herbst, 20 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 21 Sylvian Mahuza, 22 Ashlon Davids, 23 Robert Kruger.