JOHANNESBURG – Lions forwards coach Philip Lemmer is confident his light-weight pack will stand up to the physical challenge the Rebels will pose when the teams meet in a round five Super Rugby match at Ellis Park tomorrow.
The good news for the Lions is that experienced second-row forward Marvin Orie is fit again and will play a key role in helping his teammates to try and stop the expected onslaught up-front by the men from Melbourne.
The Lions conceded three driving maul tries to the Jaguares at Ellis Park last Saturday, an area Lemmer believes his team will show much improvement in this week.
“Getting Marvin back this week is nice. He’s a Springbok player and he’ll be hungry to play again,” said Lemmer. “His leadership will be key up front, but he’s also going to be important to help try stop the driving maul ... something that was a problem last week.
“Of course, his weight at scrum time will also be a benefit to us.”
Lemmer said he was expecting the bigger and heavier Rebels pack to target his smaller pack.
“They will target us. They’ll see we have a lot of youngsters in our side and have a smaller pack than theirs. They’ll also have seen us give away a few tries through the driving maul last week so we expect them to maul everything inside the 22m area. They’ll see that part of our game as a weak point and it’s one of the reasons why they’ve picked such a big pack.”
The Rebels will be a confident team after registering three straight wins, while the Lions, too, will be in better spirits following their win against the Jaguares. Lemmer said the Lions were expecting a big challenge.
“The Rebels will be very excited ... teams usually are in the first week on tour. They’ll be confident after their three wins and will look to their set-pieces to lay the foundation for their dangerous backs. They thrive on front-foot ball so our task will be a simple one ... to kill them in the scrums and lineouts, where everything starts. For the second week in a row there’s a massive responsibility on our pack,” he said.
Besides Orie, the Lions also welcome back the experienced Stephan Lewies in the second row, with the two rookies who started last week - Rhyno Herbst and Ruan Vermaak - filling spots on the bench.
Lions coach Swys de Bruin has also handed former SA Under-20 star Tyrone Green a start at fullback in place of Andries Coetzee, who has moved to the bench, where he will sit alongside Lionel Mapoe and Gianni Lombard as the backs cover.
Ruan Combrinck is also back on the wing after missing out last week, while De Bruin has again backed the rookie pairing of Wandisile Simelane and Franco Naude in midfield.
Meanwhile, wing Aphiwe Dyantyi again misses out because of injury, while Sylvian Mahuza, one of the stars against the Jaguares, tweaked a hamstring this week and thus also misses out. It is also expected that flank Cyle Brink will be back for the Lions following their trip to play the Sunwolves in Singapore next week.
Tyrone Green, Ruan Combrinck, Wandisile Simelane, Franco Naude, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje, Kwagga Smith, Vincent Tshituka, Marnus Schoeman, Stephan Lewies, Marvin Orie, Carlu Sadie, Malcolm Marx, Dylan Smith.
Replacements: Jan-Henning Campher, Sti Sithole, Frans van Wyk, Rhyno Herbst, Ruan Vermaak, Gianni Lombard, Lionel Mapoe, Andries Coetzee@jacq_west