Du Plessis included in Lions Superhero Sunday clash
New Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen has picked an almost first-choice team including veteran tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis for this weekend’s Superhero Sunday showdown with the Bulls at FNB Stadium.
Van Rooyen, who has taken over from Swys de Bruin as head coach of the Lions Super Rugby team, has also named other new recruits, scrumhalf Andre Warner and centre Dan Kriel, in the starting team. Flank Roelof Smit, who has joined the Lions from the Bulls, will play from off the bench.
Wing Jamba Ulengo, also a former Bulls player who most recently ran out for the Cheetahs, has been named on the right wing.
Veteran prop Du Plessis, 37, has joined the Lions after four years playing for Montpellier in France and is expected to add much value in a young Lions team.
Seasoned No 10 Elton Jantjies will captain the Lions on Sunday, with Van Rooyen set to name his permanent leader for the season on Monday when he finalises his squad for the competition.
Another Springbok veteran, loose-forward Willem Alberts, has also joined the Lions from France, but is yet to pass his medicals and won’t feature this weekend.
A number of Lions stalwarts of the last few years, among them Hacjivah Dayimani, Ross Cronje, Ruan Vermaak, Reinhard Nothnagel and Gianni Lombard are also still on the injured list and won’t player before the Super Rugby competition gets underway.
Meanwhile, all three of the Bulls’ new big-name signings for the 2020 Super Rugby competition have been named in the starting team for their match with the Lions at FNB Stadium.
Former Springboks and Bulls stars, flyhalf Morne Steyn and lock Juandre Kruger, as well as former Lions captain and Scotland international, Josh Strauss, will feature in the pre-season hit-out against the Bulls’ neighbours from Joburg.
The biggest surprise though in the team selected by coach Pote Human is the choice of winger Cornal Hendricks at outside centre. The tall, powerful finisher, who enjoyed a good return to top-flight rugby last year after a career-threatening heart condition put his playing days on hold, will partner captain Burger Odendaal in the midfield.
Lions: Tiaan Swanepoel, Jamba Ulengo, Duncan Matthews, Dan Kriel, Courtnal Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Andre Warner, Len Massyn, Vincent Tshituka, Marnus Schoeman, Marvin Orie, Ruben Schoeman, Jannie du Plessis, Pieter Jansen, Dylan Smith. Replacements: Jan-Henning Campher, Sti Sithole, Frans van Wyk, Roelof Smit, Cyle Brink, Morne van den Berg, Manuel Rass, Jo-Hanko de Villiers, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Jan-Louis la Grange, Wandisile Simelane
Bulls: Warrick Gelant, Johnny Kotze, Cornal Hendricks, Burger Odendaal, Rosko Specman, Morne Steyn, Ivan van Zyl, Josh Strauss, Muller Uys, Wian Vosloo, Juandre Kruger, Andries Ferreira, Wiehahn Herbst, Jaco Visagie, Simphiwe Matanzima. Replacements: Johan Grobbelaar, Gerhard Steenkamp, Mornay Smith, Ryno Pieterse, Ruan Nortje/Jean Droste, Embrose Papier, Chris Smith, Divan Rossouw, Dylan Sage, Manie Libbok, Jeandre Rudolph, Abongile Nonkontwana, Tim Agaba