Lions name inexperienced side for clash against EP Elephants
JOHANNESBURG – It's all part of the plan.
As expected the Lions announced a young, and arguably their most inexperienced, side for their second preparation match against the Eastern Province Elephants as they continue to blood their youth players to the rigours of senior professional rugby.
Head coach Ivan van Rooyen and preparation match and Lions Under-20 coach, Mziwakhe Nkosi, have made several changes to the matchday squad that will run out in Gqeberha on Wednesday night (kick-off 4.45pm), mainly to afford the younger players an opportunity to get in some game time. There are also a couple of enforced changes due to the injuries of fullback EW Viljoen and Springbok tourist Roelof Smit. Utility-back Divan Rossouw, who played on the wing against the Pumas almost a fortnight ago, shifts into the No 15 jersey, with Ngia Selengbe moving into the starting XV at 11.
The loose-trio has been completely reshuffled, replacing the trio of Francke Horn, the injured Smit and Marnus Schoeman with Ruhan Straeuli and Sibisiso Sangweni, both of whom where on the bench against the Pumas, while also introducing Mark Snyman onto the side of the scrum. In the tight five only captain Reinhard Nothnagel and prop Nathan McBeth retain their starting positions from the last encounter, with Ruben Schoeman, Wiehahn Herbst and Dameon Venter entering the fray from the first whistle.
The bench will also be jam-packed with new faces that did not feature against the Pumas, but most notably 28-year-old Dillon Smit and 23-year-old Morne van den Berg will swap roles on Wednesday as the elder of the two continues his return to match fitness by starting at scrumhalf.
This will, by all accounts, be the final preparation match without the more senior squad members. They are expected to return in dribs and drabs for the Lions' final two prep matches against the Sharks and the Stormers in the coming weeks.
Lions Starting XV: Divan Rossouw; Prince Nkabinde, Manuel Rass, James Mollentze, Ngia Selengbe; Tiaan Swanepoel, Dillon Smit; Ruhan Straeuli, Sibusiso Sangweni, Mark Snyman, Reinhard Nothnagel (capt), Ruben Schoeman, Wiehahn Herbst, Dameon Venter, Nathan McBeth.
Replacements: Morné Brandon, Banele Mthenjane, Asenathi Nthlabakanye, Mandisi Mtiyane, Izan Esterhuizen, Morné van den Berg, Jordan Hendrikse, Luke Rossouw, Sibusiso Shongwe, Jarod Cairns