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Rugby | Vodacom Super Rugby

Johan Ackermann © Gallo Images

Lions shuffle front row

The Emirates Lions have reshuffled their front row ahead of their Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Vodacom Bulls on Saturday – their first game since returning unbeaten from their tour of Australia.

The Lions are in a good space right now – exactly the opposite of what can be said about the Bulls - and became the first South African team in Super Rugby history to go through a tour unbeaten, making them odds-on favourites for the match this weekend.

And in that light, they have brought back the likes of Jacques van Rooyen, Malcolm Marx and Ruan Dreyer into the front row for the game, retaining the rest of the side that was so successful in Australia.

Coach Johan Ackermann was full of praise for the players after their unbeaten tour and said it set the team up well for the rest of the tournament.

“We’re grateful. We could see the camaraderie on the tour and how the guys fought for each other in that last game. The tour kept us in the hunt for the playoff spot, our destiny remains in our own hands. We are still in a stage where we can control that. That is a nice position to be in.

“ It is still, though, a way to go before we achieve anything yet. We need to knuckle down and work hard. It was a great effort by the players and management to make it a memorable tour, so that we can one day look back as an old man and remember those good memories.”

Ackermann said he had noted the fact that the Bulls were placing their faith in younger players after their recent results, and said that would make them unpredictable for this weekend’s match.

“It’s the perfect opportunity for a player – every player asks for an opportunity and when he gets it the one thing you know you will get is the energy that the young players bring. They want to show the coach I can play here, and that makes them dangerous. They have nothing to lose.

“The player has waited for the opportunity and he is now going to get it, and he is going to push himself. You will always know that the Bulls have enough talent and regardless of who they play, especially if you put a few youngsters inbetween those senior guys – we also had to do so in the past and it is all the player can ask for is the opportunity and it makes them unpredictable. “

Emirates Lions team:15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen

Substitutes: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Jacques Nel, 23 Anthony Volmink


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