JOHANNESBURG – Lions coach Swys de Bruin has full confidence stand-in flyhalf Shaun Reynolds will deliver the goods at No 10 when he starts against the Stormers in a crunch Super Rugby tie at Ellis Park tomorrow.
The 23-year-old Reynolds comes into the Lions team at the expense of veteran Elton Jantjies, who has been axed from the squad for a breach of team protocol.
It will be the first time this Super Rugby season that the three-time runners-up have a different player other than Jantjies at flyhalf, with the Springbok star having started all 15 games this year.
“Shaun has been around for four years now and he’s always done well for us,” said De Bruin yesterday when he named his team for the Stormers match. “Elton has been his mentor, he knows the systems well and he understands the calls. He’ll do well for us.”
De Bruin admitted it was a big call to drop Jantjies for such a crucial match. Both the Lions and Stormers, fourth and fifth respectively in the South African conference with 30 points each, are fighting for a spot in the playoffs.
“It was a big decision for us to make,” said De Bruin.
“But, we’ve got systems in place, there’s protocol that has to be adhered to and these things happen every so often. It can happen to anyone in the team. It’s not about the individual... no one is more important than the system. Life carries on.”
Returning stand-in captain Malcolm Marx, who has led the team in the absence of Warren Whiteley this year and missed last week’s match against the Sharks because he had to rest, said he had no issue with young Reynolds coming into the team this week.
“Shaun’s a great player, and he’s played Super Rugby before,” said Marx. “Sure, Elton has been the general of our team for some time, but we’ve still got leaders at the back, guys like Lionel (Mapoe) and Andries (Coetzee). And I’ve got Kwagga (Smith) up front.”
Smith, too, said he was pleased Reynolds was getting his chance this weekend.
“What’s happened has happened; I’m just happy for Shaun, that he gets his chance this week. He’s a quality player,” said the man who’s stood in for Whiteley at No 8 this season.
Whiteley, meanwhile, will miss the rest of the Super Rugby campaign having failed to recover from a knee problem.
De Bruin confirmed yesterday that the inspirational No 8 had gone for a scope on his knee on Wednesday to determine the severity of the injury that has sidelined him for several weeks now.
He has only played four games this year.
Besides Marx returning to the team this week, De Bruin has also recalled tighthead prop Carlu Sadie, flank Vincent Tshituka and scrumhalf Ross Cronje. The Lions coach said he was excited to see the young Tshituka back in action.
“He’s such a strong ball carrier, and is really one of our promising young players,” said De Bruin. “He’s made an impact every time he’s played, so I’m excited to see him go again.”
The Lions team is:
Starting XV: Andries Coetzee, Courtnall Skosan, Lionale Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Shaun Reynolds, Ross Cronje, Kwagga Smith, Vincent Tshituka, Cyle Brink, Marvin Orie, Stephan Lewies, Carlu Sadie, Malcolm Marx (capt), Dylan Smith
Replacements: Jan-Henning Campher, Sti Sithole, Johannes Jonker, Reinhard Nothnagel, Marnus Schoeman, Hacjivah Dayimani, Nic Groom, Tyrone Green.@jacq_west