The Lions are looking at their backrow to provide the spark when they face the Sharks in their second Rainbow Cup SA clash in Durban on Saturday.
The combination of Francke Horn at No 8 and flankers Vincent Tshituka and MJ Pelser have been tasked to tackle the formidable Sharks loose-trio following their sound performances in round one last weekend against the Bulls.
Naming his team on Thursday Lions coach Cash van Rooyen said the trio had been functioning well as a combination and he is happy to be able to retain them after a good showing against the Bulls.
“I think they have been going well and also played together in the Preparation Series match against the Sharks a few weeks ago,” said Van Rooyen.
“They compliment one another and all three are hard workers and have a specific role to play for us,” said Van Rooyen.
The Sharks backrow consists of Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Siya Kolisi and Henco Venter – all seasoned campaigners.
Unfortunately fullback Tiaan Swanepoel, flank Sibusiso Sangweni, wing Stean Pienaar and lock Wilhelm van der Sluys were not considered for the trip to Durban because of injuries while lock Willem Alberts is still sidelined.
At fullback EW Viljoen comes in for Swanepoel, Carlu Sadie replaces Jannie du Plessis at tighthead, while lock Reinhard Nothnagel comes in for Van der Sluys.
“We have been hit a bit by injury and wing Stean Pienaar just pulled his hamstring in training (on Thursday) which forced us into another change. We’re glad to be able to give Rabz Maxwane a chance,” said Van Rooyen.
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The Lions boss said he was expecting a mighty challenge from the Sharks, who kicked off their campaign with a win against the Stormers last Saturday.
“They’re a team that put you under pressure through defensive kicks and with their line speed,” said Van Rooyen. “They are a team that thrive off pressure and create chaos when they are on attack.”
Meanwhile, flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse has been recalled from the SA Rugby Under 20 Academy alignment camp while hooker Jaco Visagie and centre Burger Odendaal return from injury and are included on the bench.
At scrumhalf Andre Warner has been retained ahead of the lively Morne van den Berg.
Lions: EW Viljoen; Rabz Maxwane, Wandisile Simelane, Dan Kriel, Courtnall Skosan; Fred Zeilinga, André Warner; Francke Horn, Vincent Tshituka, MJ Pelser; Reinhard Nothnagel, Ruben Schoeman, Carlu Sadie, PJ Botha, Sti Sithole. Bench: Jaco Visagie, Nathan McBeth, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Len Massyn, Emmanuel Tshituka, Morné van den Berg, Jordan Hendrikse, Burger Odendaal.