How much fight is there in this Lions team?
And, is Ellis Park really a fortress for the Joburgers?
These two burning questions will be answered by Cash van Rooyen’s “second stringers” when they host a strong Western Province side in a round two Currie Cup match in Doornfontein on Wednesday evening.
For various reasons, Van Rooyen has picked a largely second-choice outfit for the match, as was the case last weekend when the Lions got thumped 39-10 by the Pumas in Mbombela.
Less than a handful of senior players return for this match, namely lock Ruben Schoeman, hooker Jaco Visagie and scrumhalf Morne van den Berg. Schoeman though is the only one of the trio who’ll start (in place of the injured Willem Alberts); the other two will play off the bench.
The only other change to the team that played in Mbombela is at tighthead prop where Ruan Dreyer replaces Carlu Sadie.
For the rest, it is the same Lions team, which means no Jannie du Plessis, Jaco Kriel, Courtnall Skosan, Burger Odendaal, Roelof Smit, Stean Pienaar and Sti Sithole, while Wandisile Simelane is training with the Springboks.
It is understood the players mentioned here are preparing for future matches, including next week’s British and Irish Lions tour opener at Ellis Park, meaning this week’s selected men have to try and restore some pride after last week’s mauling by the Pumas.
And that won’t be easy against a Province team that beat the Bulls (albeit a weakened Bulls team) at Loftus on Saturday and which now also includes Juarno Augustus in the loose-trio. There is plenty of fire-power up front and strike force at the back in this Province outfit.
There is talent aplenty in the Lions team picked by Van Rooyen, but if the vast majority of the players want to push for regular first-team action at the highest level they’re going to have to produce the goods – which they didn’t do five days ago.
Ellis Park has been a fortress for the Lions over the last number of years, but is it still the case in 2021? Today’s performance will answer that question.
Kick-off is 7pm.
Lions: EW Viljoen; Jamba Ulengo, Manuel Rass, Dan Kriel, Rabz Maxwane; Fred Zeilinga, Dillon Smit; Francke Horn (capt), Vincent Tshituka, Sibusiso Sangweni; Reinhard Nothnagel, Ruben Schoeman; Ruan Dreyer, PJ Botha, Nathan McBeth. Bench: Jaco Visagie, Banele Mthenjane, Carlu Sadie, Ruhan Straeuli, Emmanuel Tshituka, Morne van den Berg, Aidynn Cupido, Duncan Matthews
Western Province: Tim Swiel, Sergeal Petersen, Rikus Pretorius, Dan du Plessis, Seabelo Senatla, Abner van Reenen, Godlen Masimla, Juarno Augustus, Evan Roos, Marcel Theunissen, David Meihuizen, Ernst van Rhyn (capt), Neethling Fouche, JJ Kotze, Ali Vermaak. Bench (from): Jason Alexander, Leon Lyons, Sazi Sandi, Justin Basson, De Wet Marais, Johan du Toit, Paul de Wet, Cornel Smit, Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, Hacjivah Dayimani, Niel Otto.