Lions bring out big guns for WP
It wasn’t so much the 11 changes that raised an eyebrow or two when MTN Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann named his team to face Western Province in their Absa Currie Cup semifinal clash in Johannesburg on Saturday, as the exclusion from the starting line-up of Bok prop Pat Cilliers.
Ackermann did as expected, bringing back all the players he gave a rest in last Saturday’s 50-29 defeat at the hands of the Vodacom Blue Bulls, but interestingly opted for Jacobie Adriaanse at tighthead above Pat Cilliers – mainly because of the impressive Currie Cup form Adriaanse had produced thus far this season.
Cilliers is bracketed on the bench with another Bok, CJ van der Linde, with Ackermann still needing to decide which of the two will take the number 17 jersey this weekend.
Ackermann explained that this was mainly because of the form of Adriaanse, which Ackermann has rewarded rather than discarded for a returning Bok.
“I feel that Jacobie has played very well and created a great relationship up front with Callie (Visagie) and JC (Janse van Rensburg). He has had a good season thus far, and for a guy to do all the hard work for nine games, and then miss a semifinal is not fair. That is why I gave him the jersey,” Ackermann said at the team announcement.
The rest of the changes were regulation for the Lions with Janse van Rensburg resuming the captaincy and loosehead position, and Adriaanse taking over from Cilliers at tighthead. Franco van der Merwe is back at lock in the place of Paul Willemse while veteran flank Cobus Grobbelaar comes in at No 7, with Jaco Kriel moving to the openside in the place of Derick Minnie.
Warren Whiteley returns to his regular No 8 spot, while Michael Bondesio is back at scrumhalf and Elton Jantjies at flyhalf. Jaco Taute replaces the injured Deon van Rensburg at outside centre, with Ruan Combrinck in from fullback to wing. Andries Coetzee starts at fullback this weekend.
Ackermann said he didn’t consider Lionel Mapoe because of his knee injury but there was still a chance he could play this week.
“He is a talented player and a key one for us, but we have to look after him and we still may have a final to prepare for, so I didn’t want to take a chance with him and prepare a team with him if he isn’t going to make it. We will see how he goes and if he recovers in time, then we can always bring him in,” Ackermann added.
Butch James also features on a bench that has three Springboks on it, mainly because, as Ackermann put it “Butch doesn’t like centre, so he will help us out off the bench as flyhalf.”
Lions team: 15. Andries Coetzee, 14. Ruan Combrinck, 13. Jaco Taute, 12. Alwyn Hollenbach/ Dylan des Fountain, 11. Anthony Volmink,10. Elton Jantjies,9. Michael Bondesio, 8. Warren Whiteley, 7. Jaco Kriel, 6. Cobus Grobbelaar, 5.Franco van der Merwe, 4.Michael Rhodes, 3. Jacobie Adriaanse, 2. Callie Visagie, 1. JC Janse van Rensburg (capt).
Replacements: 16. Bandise Maku, 17. CJ van der Linde/Pat Cilliers, 18. Hendrik Roodt, 19. Derick Minnie, 20. Ross Cronje, 21. Butch James, 22. Deon Helberg.