JOHANNESBURG - Lions boss Swys de Bruin has opted to hand lock-cum-flank Franco Mostert the captaincy of his team as he made several changes to the side for Saturday’s Super Rugby match with the Sunwolves at Ellis Park.
Mostert, who has played on the blindside flank in recent weeks, takes over from the injured Warren Whiteley. Regular stand-in captain Jaco Kriel is also sidelined at the moment.
The side, which is coming off a rare and unexpected defeat by the Blues, shows several changes from the one that ran out a week ago. Dylan Smith and Jacobie Adriaanse are the new props, Lourens Erasmus gets a run in the second row, and Len Massyn makes his debut in Whiteley’s No 8 position, while at the back Harold Vorster is back in the midfield with Rohan Janse van Rensburg shifting to the wing.
De Bruin said the team had put last week’s disappointing result behind them and were now focused on the next “hurdle” in their way. “We knew at the start of the season we’d be up against several different hurdles and you hope to clear most of them, but there will be some you knock down,” he said. “We knocked down a hurdle last week, but now have to focus on the one in front of us.”
He said it was important to rest some of his players this week ahead of next week’s trip to Buenos Aires for a date with the Jaguares, which is followed by a match against last year’s champions, the Crusaders.
“We have to rotate the players at some stage ... next week is a tough trip to Argentina, and then we have to recover quickly for the Crusaders. The good thing is the spine of our team is still mostly intact, the hooker, scrumhalf, flyhalf and fullback,” said De Bruin.
“It’s irrelevant what happened last weekend against the Blues; we were going to rest players anyway this week. But we’re definitely not underestimating them ... as I’ve said before anybody can beat anybody in this competition.
With regards his decision to hand Mostert the captaincy, De Bruin said: “It was an easy choice. He’s always been part of the leadership group and he’s an inspirational figure. It’s well deserved.”
The Lions bench also shows several changes from the last few weeks with Sti Sithole and Johannes Jonker coming on as prop cover, while Howard Mnisi gets another chance to show what he can do from off the bench.
Lions team: Andries Coetzee, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje, Len Massyn, Franco Mostert, Kwagga Smith, Lourens Erasmus, Marvin Orie, Jacobie Adriaanse, Malcolm Marx, Dylan Smith. Replacements: Robbie Coetzee, Sti Sithole, Johannes Jonker, Robert Kruger, Marnus Schoeman, Marco Janse van Vuren, Howard Mnisi, Shaun Reynolds