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WATCH: Tshituka brothers could feature for Lions in United Rugby Championship clash against Leinster

Vincent Tshituka of the Lions scores a try during the United Rugby Championship 2021/2 game between the Stormers and the Lions at Cape Town Stadium in Cape Town on December 4. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Vincent Tshituka of the Lions scores a try during the United Rugby Championship 2021/2 game between the Stormers and the Lions at Cape Town Stadium in Cape Town on December 4. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Published Feb 22, 2022

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Johannesburg — There is the possibility, however slight it may seem, that the Tshituka brothers could still find themselves opposing the mighty Leinster on the RDS Arena pitch on Friday, according to Ricardo Loubscher.

Vincent and younger brother Emmanuel were denied entry into Ireland on Monday afternoon due to “a bit of paperwork regarding their visas”, but the Emirates Lions’ backline, attack and skills coach on Tuesday explained that the team was still hopeful that the duo will play a part in the United Rugby Championship (URC) clash this weekend.

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“We are just waiting for confirmation,” said Loubscher. “It’s obviously Day 2 for us now, but behind the scenes we are working on it. Hopefully, we can get a good outcome.”

The Lions are currently on a four-match losing streak in the URC, so if there is even the slightest possibility that a fit and ready Vincent Tshituka can be selected, with his equally powerful brother ready to explode from off the bench, you can bet your bottom dollar that head coach Ivan van Rooyen will scribble in at least one of their names for the encounter.

ALSO READ: Stormers success is down to their improvement in defence

The Lions’ think-tank will certainly have to rethink their current strategy ahead of an extremely tough encounter, and if the Tshitukas are unable to participate in the match, they certainly will have to rework their loose-trio. Although it is early days, it could be speculated that the unit will consist of Jaco Kriel, Sibusiso Sangweni and Franke Horn, with Lunga Ncube acting as cover – if Vincent and Emmanuel remain ineligible.

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The other question swirling around matchday 23, is who will slot in at flyhalf. With Fred Zeilinga dropped from the side, and the return of the talented Jordan Hendrikse and equally prodigious Tiaan Swanepoel, the Lions might drop EW Viljoen out of the starting XV.

Loubscher admitted that the management team are exploring this possibility, but also revealed that there is a serious case being considered to insert 20-year-old Baby Boks player Quan Horn into the equation.

Loubscher said: “It’s a good talking point in our coaches meetings at the moment.

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“It is nice to have Jordan back and, obviously, we know what Tiaan can do. Jordan is a guy that brings that X-factor to our team, he is a good goal-kicker and he has a big boot. It is also about giving the team confidence in having him back. So, we are definitely thinking of that 10/15 combination.

“There’s also a guy like Quan,” the former Springbok assitant coach continued, “who played on the weekend and he had a solid game. I thought he was really outstanding against the Sharks (a 43-31 loss at Emirates Airline Park in a Currie Cup encounter).

“He didn’t make a lot of mistakes. It is exciting to have a guy of his quality, to have him around the team. I am actually looking forward to seeing him as part of our team this weekend.”

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On a more somber topic, Loubscher also confirmed that the Lions would lose the services of captain Burger Odendaal at the end of the season. The 28-year-old centre has signed with English Premiership outfit Wasps.

“My understanding is that he is still a part of us,” Loubscher said, with regard to Odendaal's eligiblilty for the rest of the season.

“To lose a guy of his quality, it will be a big loss for us in terms of his leadership. When he plays well, it just gives the whole team confidence … We will definitely miss him, but it is also a great opportunity for him to just take his career a step further. Ja, it is a big loss for us.”

Loubscher also reported that, other than the set-back surrounding Vincent and Emmanuel, there were no injury concerns within the touring squad and that there was a good “vibe” within the group.

Van Rooyen names his matchday 23 for the encounter on Thursday.

@FreemanZAR

IOL Sport

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