JOHANNESBURG – He did the job once this season when Malcolm Marx was rested and tomorrow Kwagga Smith will again lead the Lions in a Super Rugby match.
With Marx sitting out again, and Warren Whiteley still injured, Smith will guide the Lions in their round 15 match against the Sharks in Durban.
While Smith may not be the most vocal man around, Lions coach Swys de Bruin has confidence the 25-year-old has what it takes to lead the side.
“Kwagga is a lot like Malcolm in that he also prefers to let his playing do the talking,” said De Bruin.
“But he’s a senior member of the team and a guy with loads of experience. He’s been around for a while now and as a former Sevens player who travelled all over the world he knows what it takes to win and to set the right example. I’ve got a lot of trust in him and the players back him, too.”
De Bruin didn’t want to speculate on Whiteley’s return.
“I don’t know much about knee bruising, so it’s not fair on anyone to say we’ll wait and see every week. I’ll let Warren get better and when he’s ready I’ll pick him again. I’ve got quality players here who I back and right now they must do the business for us.”
In Marx’s absence, young Jan-Henning Campher will start at hooker, with Pieter Jansen on the bench.
After 2 impressive wins on home soil, the @emirates Lions are soaring high into this weekend's local derby against the Cell C Sharks. The game kicks off at 17:15 at Jonsson Kings Park on Saturday.#LionsPride #SHAvLIO pic.twitter.com/ya3XMRuBud— Emirates Lions (@LionsRugbyCo) May 24, 2019
“Malcolm has had two big games now (against the Waratahs and Highlanders) and we have to rest our top guys,” explained De Bruin. “But this is a big opportunity for our two young hookers, Jan-Henning and Pieter Jansen.
Jan-Henning has been impressive when he’s got his chances this year and you can see he’s hungry to get a proper go. I’m keen to see what he can do from the start.”
The Lions side is:
Andries Coetzee, Courtnall Skosan, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Elton Jantjies, Nic Groom, Kwagga Smith (capt), Cyle Brink, Marnus Schoeman, Marvin Orie, Stephan Lewies, Johannes Jonker, Jan-Henning Campher, Dylan Smith.
Replacements: Pieter Jansen, Sti Sithole, Carlu Sadie, Reinhardt Nothnagel, Vincent Tshituka, Hacjivah Dayimani, Shaun Reynolds, Tyrone Green.@jacq_west