Lions name team for Rainbow Cup opener against Bulls
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JOHANNESBURG – The Tshituka Bros, Vincent and Emmanuel, will in all likelihood find themselves battling as brothers in arms against the Bulls when the Lions kick-off their Rainbow Cup campaign at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday (kick-off 7pm).
Due to a handful of niggles within the squad, the 20-year-old lock, Emmanuel, finds himself on the bench, and will watch his older sibling from the sidelines during the early exchanges in what is expected to be a massive clash up-front. To that end, Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen, has gone with a 6-2 split amongst his replacements in the hopes to nullify that particular strength of their opponents.
With Elton Jantjies unavailable for selection due to his participation in the French Top 14, inside centre, the burly Dan Kriel has been handed the captaincy. This is not entirely a surprise, as the 27-year-old had been selected in the role during the SuperRugby Unlocked campaign in the cancelled match against the Pumas last year, and would have skippered the side last week as well for the start of the European-orientated Rainbow Cup.
Van Rooyen has also selected the best of both worlds at flyhalf and full-back, backing Fred Zeilinga to bring his experience to the No 10 jumper, while Tiaan Swanepoel will add the extra dimension of his kicking game as the last defender. Elsewhere, Francke Horn will pack down at No 8, the former Baby Bok seemingly having done enough during the preparation series to impress the Lions' technical team.
The other big team selection question revolved round who would combine in the second row, and here Wilhelm van der Sluys and Ruben Schoeman will start, with Willem Alberts not yet ready to collect bones with his crunching runs and tackles.
Lions starting XV: Tiaan Swanepoel; Stean Pienaar, Wandisile Simelane, Dan Kriel (capt), Courtnall Skosan; Fred Zeilinga, André Warner; Francke Horn, Vincent Tshituka, MJ Pelser, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Ruben Schoeman, Jannie du Plessis, PJ Botha, Sti Sithole; Replacements: Morné Brandon, Nathan McBeth, Carlu Sadie, Reinhard Nothnagel, Emmanuel Tshituka, Sibusiso Sangweni, Morné van den Berg, EW Viljoen