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Lions hoping to give Burger Odendaal fitting farewell against Benetton

Lions centre Burger Odendaal during the United Rugby Championship match against Ospreys at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on 25 March 2022. Picture: Willem Loock/BackpagePix

Lions centre Burger Odendaal during the United Rugby Championship match against Ospreys at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on 25 March 2022. Picture: Willem Loock/BackpagePix

Published Apr 29, 2022

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Johannesburg - The Lions will say farewell to one of their best players at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday when they host Benetton, and super centre Burger Odendaal certainly deserves a rousing farewell.

Odendaal has been in brilliant form and how the Lions must be rueing the fact that they did not hold onto him when English club Wasps came knocking.

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Odendaal’s form has been a significant factor in the Lions turning around a horror sequence of defeats to win four in a row, before they lost to the Sharks and then Connacht last week.

Odendaal did not play in that loss in Durban. His ability to cut the line and set up outside runners has resulted in a flurry of tries for the Lions on their home ground and they will be hoping for more of the same against an Italian team that gave the Bulls a good run for their money last week.

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They are no pushovers and the Lions will have learned from how Benetton ran up a 14-point lead in the first half an hour at Loftus.

Both of these teams have nothing more than pride to play for as far as the URC is concerned, so a fitting farewell for Odendaal will be a prime motivating factor for the Lions.

In a change to the Lions team from last week, Stean Pienaar returns to the right wing, replacing Rabz Maxwane, who drops out of the match-day 23. In a change up front, JP Smith and Carlu Sadie pack down in the front row with hooker PJ Botha.

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Lions scrum coach Julian Redelinghuys emphasised the need to execute effectively against Benetton, as the Italians have the ability to catch teams off-guard.

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“The focus for us this week has been on better decision-making and keeping our structures when it comes to the fundamentals of the game which could ultimately give us the edge,” Redelinghuys said.

Lions team – 15 Quan Horn, 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Burger Odendaal (c), 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Jordan Hendrikse, 9 Morne van den Berg, 8 Emmanuel Tshituka, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Francke Horn, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 PJ Botha, 1 JP Smith.

Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Ruan Venter, 20 Sibusiso Sangweni, 21 Andre Warner, 22 Manuel Rass, 23 Tiaan Swanepoel.

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