JOHANNESBURG – Lions boss Swys de Bruin has restored Springbok Aphiwe Dyantyi to the left wing for Saturday’s Super Rugby showdown with the Brumbies in Canberra and also returned 100-game veteran Lionel Mapoe to the outside centre berth.
Dyantyi, who became a Springbok last year following a string of superb performances on the wing, ran out in the No 13 jersey last weekend, with Mapoe on his inside at No 12, but both men have moved back to their more familiar positions this week.
Joining Mapoe in the centres is rookie Franco Naude, who is on loan from the Bulls.
De Bruin has also somewhat surprisingly opted to play Nic Groom at scrumhalf ahead of the more seasoned Ross Cronje, while there are also several changes in the forwards following the Lions’ 42-5 defeat by the Sharks a week ago.
Hacjivah Dayimani has been recalled and will start at eighthman, while retreaded lock Stephan Lewies will pack down at blindside flank, with fit-again Cyle Brink at openside.
There is no place in the starting team for Marnus Schoeman, who due to the rotational policy has to be happy with a place on the bench, or for Kwagga Smith, the Lions’ best player before he got injured and sat out the last month.
It was expected that Smith would feature this week after returning from his injury layoff earlier than anticipated, but it appears he is not yet ready to play.
@13LionelMapoe14 is celebrating 💯 Vodacom Super Rugby caps this weekend when the @emirates Lions take the field against the Brumbies in Canberra on Sat. Mapoe, who has 116 SR caps in total (played for Free State & Bulls) has scored 32 Super Rugby tries in total.#LionsPride pic.twitter.com/H1HU8YHpCs— Emirates Lions (@LionsRugbyCo) April 11, 2019
In the front row, De Bruin has opted to also rest rookie loan player from the Cape, the highly impressive Carlu Sadie, who’ll sit on the bench, and start with Johannes Jonker at tighthead. Young Nathan McBeth will also earn his first start at this level, coming in on the loosehead side.
The Lions are currently third in the SA Conference after registering four wins from seven games, while the Brumbies have only managed two wins so far.
Kickoff on Saturday is 10.40am.
The Lions team is:
Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Lionel Mapoe, Franco Naude, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Elton Jantjies, Nic Groom, Hacjivah Dayimani, Stephan Lewies, Cyle Brink, Marvin Orie, Rhyno Herbst, Johannes Jonker, Malcolm Marx (capt), Nathan McBeth.
Replacements: Robbie Coetzee, Sti Sithole, Carlu Sadie, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Marnus Schoeman, Ross Cronje, Gianni Lombard, Sylvian Mahuza@jacq_west