JOHANNESBURG – The high-flying Lions surprised friend and foe on Tuesday evening by announcing their 23-man squad for Saturday’s big Gauteng Super Rugby derby against the Bulls at Loftus.
And they did their announcement in the quite unusual way via a video on their Facebook page... and almost 48 hours before they normally name their match-day line-up – on a Thursday around lunchtime.
The most significant change to the team that beat the Jaguares at Ellis Park last weekend is in the back row, where normal No 5 lock Franco Mostert will run out at blindside flank this weekend.
He effectively takes the place of Kwagga Smith, who’s not available for the match.
“Kwagga is on compassionate leave,” explained coach Swys de Bruin.
“It means Franco coming in at seven and Cyle Brink shifting to six, with Marnus (Schoeman) moving on to the bench.”
In Mostert’s place in the second row comes Marvin Orie who’ll partner Andries Ferreira. They will have the big task to keep the impressive RG Snyman and Lood de Jager of the Bulls in check on Saturday evening.
At the back, the biggest change sees Rohan Janse van Rensburg make a first starting appearance this season after playing off the bench against the Sharks and Jaguares. The burly centre takes the place of Harold Vorster, who moves on to the bench.
“And there Madosh (Tambwe) comes in for Howard Mnisi this week,” said De Bruin in the video message to the fans and media.
“We’re looking forward to the challenge (of facing the Bulls) and ask our supporters to join us there in Pretoria.
“I’d love to see lots of red-and-white; hopefully we can go there and make a difference and play some attractive rugby,” said De Bruin.
The Lions are currently the form local team, having swept past the Sharks and Jaguares, while the Bulls – now under the guidance of former Lions boss John Mitchell – only got their challenge under way last weekend, beating the 2016 champions the Hurricanes first up at Loftus.
Kickoff on Saturday is 5.15pm. The Bulls are expected to name their team on Thursday.
The Lions team is:
15 Andries Coetzee 14 Sylvian Mahuza 13 Lionel Mapoe 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi 10 Elton Jantjies 9 Ross Cronjé 8 Warren Whiteley (captain) 7 Franco Mostert 6 Cyle Brink 5 Marvin Orie 4 Andries Ferreira 3 Ruan Dreyer 2 Malcolm Marx 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Bench: 16 Robbie Coetzee 17 Dylan Smith 18 Jacobie Adriaanse 19 Lourens Erasmus 20 Marnus Schoeman 21 Marco Janse van Vuren 22 Harold Vorster 23 Madosh Tambwe.