JOHANNESBURG - Lions boss Swys de Bruin has picked his strongest possible lineup, including fit-again experienced wing Courtnall Skosan, for Saturday’s final Super Rugby league outing against the Bulls at Ellis Park.
Skosan is one of 11 Springboks in the starting team, for what will be the winger’s first run-on start this season after picking up an injury in training early in the year. It will be the Bok’s 56th Super Rugby match. Also in the side are, among others, fit-again Warren Whiteley and Malcolm Marx, backs Andries Coetzee and Lionel Mapoe, and forwards Ruan Dreyer, Franco Mostert, Marvin Orie and Kwagga Smith.
The only regulars who weren’t considered for the match are prop Dylan Smith, who has a calf strain, and flank Jaco Kriel, who has a knee injury and is leaving the Lions for Gloucester in England in a few weeks’ time. “We’re blessed to have all our experienced men available at this time of the competition,” said De Bruin on Thursday. “It’s very pleasing to be in this situation.”
If the Lions beat the Bulls they will host a quarter-final at Ellis Park next weekend – the third year in a row that will happen. De Bruin though said he wasn’t looking too far ahead, with the Lions looking to go one step further than in 2016 and 2017 when they lost in the final to the Hurricanes and Crusaders respectively.
“As coaches we look at the permutations, but it really is about taking it one game at a time. Right now it’s the Bulls we’re up against and they’re going to be a big test for us. They’ve improved a lot since we played them in March and will be a big threat ... all we can do is focus on our job,” he said.
De Bruin added his team would look to continue to score plenty of tries. “The Bulls have improved their attacking game, but we’re still the leaders in the competition in that regard. And while the Bulls have a strong rush defence, we’ve got a plan or two to beat them. We still want to go out there and score as many tries as we can.”
De Bruin will finalise his bench on the day of the match, depending on what weather conditions great the team on Saturday. Kickoff is 3pm.
Lions team: Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Nic Groom, Warren Whiteley (capt), Cyle Brink, Kwagga Smith, Franco Mostert, Marvin Orie, Ruan Dreyer, Malcolm Marx, Jacques van Rooyen. Replacements: Corne Fourie, Johannes Jonker, Jacobie Adriaanse, Lourens Erasmus, Marnus Schoeman/Hacjivah Dayimani, Ross Cronje, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Howard Mnisi/Shaun Reynolds.