JOHANNESBURG - Golden Lions coach Cash van Rooyen is hoping to get the green light on Tuesday to pick four key Springbok players for Saturday’s Currie Cup semi-final against the Sharks in Durban.
Van Rooyen, who has stood in for regular coach Swys de Bruin during this year’s shortened Currie Cup competition, said on Monday that a call on whether or not he could consider selecting Warren Whiteley, Malcolm Marx, Franco Mostert and Aphiwe Dyantyi for the trip to Durban would be made on Tuesday.
“They’ve all been assessed medically and we’ll make a call on Tuesday,” said Van Rooyen. “In the case of Warren and Malcolm, they had injuries, but Franco and Aphiwe were rested last week as we looked to manage them after a heavy load with the Springbok team.”
The Lions, who welcomed back to action last weekend Elton Jantjies and Lionel Mapoe, will hope the quartet are given the thumbs up to play because the Sharks are set to be boosted by the availability, too, of several Bok players for the semi-final.
“Both teams look set to be significantly stronger than when we last met (mid September), but it’s still going to be a big decision for us to make; do we pick the Bok players, or go with the guys who’ve got us to this point and been part of the squad?” asked Van Rooyen. “We also have to keep the bigger picture in mind, and that is the needs of SA Rugby and the Boks.”
Van Rooyen though said just the availability again of Jantjies and Mapoe made a big difference to the Lions team. “They’re experienced players, who lift the players around them. Elton especially manages our game-plan and is heavily involved in the decision-making. Of course it’s nice having him and Lionel back in the mix,” said the coach.
The last time the Lions and Sharks met, in the middle of last month, it was the Durban-based team that won, fairly comfortably on the East Coast. Van Rooyen said on Tuesday he and his team had learned a lot about themselves and the Sharks that day.
“They physically dominated us and they’ll probably look to do the same this weekend. But, we’ll be better prepared this time. And, a playoff game is a funny thing ... anything is possible when the pressure is on. We’re going in with a clean slate and there’s a lot of excitement about that.”