The usual suspects are back as Lions finally get a Currie Cup game
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JOHANNESBURG - The Lions will finally get back to Currie Cup action on Wednesday after a disjointed fortnight for the tournament hampered by Covid-19, riots and concessions to the British and Irish Lions.
The Sigma Lions have played only two of their four matches in the tournament thus far, the last a 38-32 victory over the Western Province on June 23.
Both their matches against the Sharks (July 10) and Cheetahs (July 17) were cancelled due to last week's unrest in the country, with a decision on the log points yet to be made, although the result has been recorded as a 0-0 draw.
Wednesday's match against the Griquas at Emirates Airline Park (kick-off 2.30pm) therefore represents an opportunity for the Joburg-based outfit, and for the Griquas for that matter, to get their campaign up-and-running again, and present some semblance of structure to the currently mangled competition.
As such, the Lions team has the usual suspects in the matchday 23, with a handful of players returning after injury lay-offs. Wing Stean Piennar, who was one of the standout performers for the team last season, is one of those players, as is Andre Warner, now returned from a cheekbone fracture that has kept him out of the team for the last month.
Powerful prop Sti Sithole finally makes his long awaited start and will combine with Jaco Visagie and Jannie du Plessis, both up to speed after various niggles - in the front-row.
Jordan Hendrickse, meanwhile, will make his Currie Cup debut at flyhalf, while youngster Travis Gordon could also make his debut in the competition and for the team if he comes off the bench.
Conspicuous by their absence, coach Ivan van Rooyen has not selected the Kriels - Dan and Jaco; nor the Tshituka Brothers - Vincent and Emmanuel; while the team is also missing Dillon Smit, Jan-Henning Campher, Len Massyn, Jamba Ulengo, Divan Russouw and Courtnall Skosan.
The Lions are scheduled to play the Bulls at Loftus on Sunday, so it is possible that Van Rooyen and Co have held back a number of players for that encounter..
Sigma Lions Starting XV (15-1): EW Viljoen; Stean Pienaar, Manuel Rass, Burger Odendaal, Rabz Maxwane; Jordan Hendrikse, Morne van den Berg; Francke Horn (capt), Sibusiso Sangweni, MJ Pelser, Reinhardt Nothnagel, Ruben Schoeman, Jannie du Plessis, Jaco Visagie, Sti Sithole.
Replacements (16-23): PJ Botha, Ruan Dreyer, Carlu Sadie, FP Pelser, Travis Gordon, Andre Warner, Fred Zeilinga, Duncan Matthews.