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Jordan Hendrikse or Tiaan Swanepoel: Who will be at 10? Why not both?

Andre Warner of the Emirates Lions during the United Rugby Championship 2021/22 game between the Emirates Lions. Photo: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix

Andre Warner of the Emirates Lions during the United Rugby Championship 2021/22 game between the Emirates Lions. Photo: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix

Published Feb 21, 2022

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Johannesburg - Conspicuous by absence is the incumbent No 9 of the Emirates Lions, Andre Warner, from the tour party that has travelled to Dublin to face Leinster in a United Rugby Championship (URC) encounter on Friday (kick-off 9.35pm).

Warner has been one of head coach Ivan van Rooyen’s go to selection, and no doubt one of the first names to be scribbled down on the teamsheet - not only this season but since joining the union in 2020. The 26-strong list of names released by the union late Sunday night didn’t reveal the reason for his absence, but it was confirmed on Monday morning that it was due to injury.

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In all honesty, that could have been the only reason that the ever-present 26-year-old would miss this match.

ALSO READ: Tshituka brothers are tasked with getting Lions back to winning ways against in the Currie Cup

Nevertheless, it sees the exciting prospect of 19-year-old Baby Bok Nico Steyn elevated into the senior squad, and he will no doubt play a role in the match against Leinster, deputising for Morne van den Berg. Steyn will also be joined by another newly blooded Baby Bok in utility-back Quan Horn, who has played one senior professional match for the Lions this year.

Perhaps the biggest selection this weekend, however, will be at flyhalf.

Fred Zeilinga, who played off the bench in the 43-21 Currie Cup loss this past weekend against the Sharks, has been dropped from the squad, leaving Tiaan Swanepoel and Jordan Hendrikse as the natural picks for the No 10 jumper. EW Viljoen could also slot in at pivot, as was the case last year when the team found itself in dire need of a No 10, but it is more likely that Van Rooyen will choose between the aforementioned duo.

It is also possible, although improbable, that both Swanepoel and Hendrikse could be selected in the starting XV at fullback and flyhalf, respectively, but that would certainly pose a problem later in the match regarding substitutions.

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ALSO READ: The key areas the Lions need to improve to maul Stormers

The assignment this weekend at the RDS Main Arena will not be an easy one. The Irish outfit currently top the URC standings with 40 points due to a superior points difference after 10 matches, having won eight of their games. The Lions, in comparison, are in the bottom three of the standings ahead of the Dragons and Parma. The Joburgers are on 12 points, and have won on two of their nine encounters.

The Lions left for Ireland on Sunday night, and should be well settled come gameday. They will surely need every advantage to overcome their hosts on what is expected to be a brutally cold night.

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Forwards (15): PJ Botha, Ruan Dreyer, Francke Horn, Jaco Kriel, Morgan Naude, Carlu Sadie, Sibusiso Sangweni, Ruben Schoeman, Sti Sithole, JP Smith, PJ Steenkamp, Emmanuel Tshituka, Vincent Tshituka, Ruan Venter, Jaco Visagie

Backs (11): Jordan Hendrikse, Quan Horn, Burger Odendaal, Stean Pienaar, Manuel Rass, Wandisile Simelane, Nico Steyn, Tiaan Swanepoel, Morne van den Berg, Edwill van der Merwe, EW Viljoen

@FreemanZAR

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