Who will stand tallest for Lions?
With the Lions seeking just a second win from six matches these are trying times for the Joburg side. rugby writer Jacques van der Westhuyzen picks six players he wants to see stand up and deliver for the Lions as they seek to turn their season - and tour - around
Dan Kriel: The 26-year-old may be a newcomer in the Lions set-up but he has been around for a while in SA rugby, trying to establish himself as a centre to be taken seriously.
After five games he should be settled in this Lions team, but he now has to take charge at inside centre and play the kind of rugby that made him one of this country’s most exciting prospects at U-20 level. With the seasoned Elton Jantjies on his inside, there’s no reason why Kriel shouldn’t be delivering.
Andre Warner: Another newcomer to the Lions, but at 26 by no means inexperienced or still learning his trade. He’s been around for several seasons, including playing for the Bulls for four years.
Preferred by the Lions coaches ahead of the dynamic Dillon Smit and rookie Morne van den Berg (and with fit-again Ross Cronje waiting for his turn), Warner now needs to seriously man up. He needs to ask some questions around the fringes, kick strongly and get his backs moving.
Willem Alberts: The 35-year-old may not be as energetic as before, but the Lions bosses no doubt believe their former man still has something to add. After starting at blindside last week, and playing off the bench the week before, Alberts must now be the leader in the pack. By far the most experienced campaigner, he needs to carry strongly, tackle hard and often, and lead by example.
Manny Rass: The 21-year-old has been in and out of the Lions team this season, but he has another golden opportunity to show why he was signed by the Lions while still at school. Wandisile Simelane is injured so it’s up to Rass to grab his chance again, and what an opportunity it is, going up against All Black star Rieko Ioane. He must back himself on attack, take the outside gaps, and stand tall and strong in defence.
Hacjivah Dayimani: He’s been in the Lions set-up for some time now, but the fact is Dayimani is only 22-years-old and starting for the first time this season - inexplicably. And if there’s one man with the potential to fire up this under-performing Lions team it is the former Jeppe star.
Jan-Henning Campher: The Lions’ search for a replacement for Malcolm Marx continues.
Pieter Jansen has been tried, and tried again, and now it’s Campher’s turn again. That starting spot is now there for the taking and it’s Campher’s chance to claim it. Throw into the line-out properly, tackle regularly, pinch a ball or two and carry every so often, and the jersey will be the 23-year-olds.@jacq_west