Sithembiso Sithole won't be playing for the Lions in the Currie Cup final. Photo: Frikkie Kapp/BackpagePix

Popular Lions prop Sti Sithole was in tears on Thursday after being told he would not be able to play in Saturday’s Currie Cup final against the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

Sithole tore a calf muscle in his team’s early morning training session on Thursday before the team departed by bus to Bloemfontein. His place in the starting team has been filled by the hugely experienced Dylan Smith, who moves up from the bench, while coming in as cover from the outside will be rookie Nathan McBeth.

The change at prop is the only alteration to the Lions team that played against Griquas in last weekend’s semi-final.

“I really feel for Sti; he’s going to miss out. He’s had a great season, but his injury now also provides a guy like Nathan, another youngster, with an opportunity,” said Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen.

The Lions are chasing a first Currie Cup win since the 2015 season, while the Cheetahs go into the final having last won it three years ago.

Van Rooyen, who also coached the Currie Cup team last season, said he was excited about the opportunity in front of him. “It’s a privilege; for some it’s a once in a lifetime ... we’re definitely ready; we had good training week, so we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

Cheetahs coach Franco Smith was expected to name his team later Thursday. Saturday’s match kicks off at 5pm.

Lions: 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, Dylan Smith. Replacements: Jan-Henning Campher, Nathan McBeth, Johannes Jonker, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Len Massyn, Dillon Smit, Jan-Louis la Grange, Jamba Ulengo


IOL Sport