Cape Town — The Lions won’t have first-choice flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse available, but at least star centre Henco van Wyk is fit enough to take on Stade Francais in their Challenge Cup clash in Paris on Saturday (3pm SA time kick-off).
Hendrikse limped off with an ankle injury during the first half of last weekend’s 33-3 United Rugby Championship defeat at the hands of Munster in Cork, and there was hope earlier in the week that he would be ready to play at the Stade Jean-Bouin on Saturday.
But it was not to be when coach Ivan van Rooyen announced his match-23 on Friday, which had Gianni Lombard in the No 10 position.
Good news though is that fellow Junior Springbok stalwart Van Wyk has recovered from a blow to the knee, and he will slot into his regular No 13 berth against the French club.
But Van Rooyen has brought in a few new elements into the backline that was unable to capitalise on the scrum dominance achieved by the forwards at Musgrave Park last week, and he will hope for a better outcome in Paris.
Former Bok fullback Andries Coetzee has been recalled at No 15, which sees speedy youngster Quan Horn moving to right wing in place of Stean Pienaar.
There are some vital additions in the pack as well, where experienced flank Jaco Kriel will hope to add some punch with his ball-carries and work-rate around the pitch, with Jarod Cairns making way.
Veteran Willem Alberts is also back to play the enforcer role at No 4 lock, with Junior Bok Ruan Venter sidelined by a groin problem.
Blitzboks star JC Pretorius will get his first opportunity in the Challenge Cup after leaving the sevens scene recently if he comes off the bench as a loose forward, while there is a new prop in loosehead Rhynhardt Rijnsburger too.
15 Andries Coetzee 14 Quan Horn 13 Henco van Wyk 12 Marius Louw (captain) 11 Edwill van der Merwe 10 Gianni Lombard 9 Morne van den Berg 8 Emmanuel Tshituka 7 Emile van Heerden 6 Jaco Kriel 5 Darrien Landsberg 4 Willem Alberts 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye 2 PJ Botha 1 JP Smith.
Bench: 16 Michael van Vuuren 17 Rhynhardt Rijnsburger 18 Ruan Smith 19 Ruhan Straeuli 20 Sibusiso Sangweni 21 JC Pretorius 22 Andre Warner 23 Manuel Rass.