'New-look' Lions to face WP
Lions coach Johan Ackermann has made 11 changes to his starting XV to face Western Province in their Currie Cup semifinal clash in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann has made 11 changes to his starting XV to face Western Province in their Currie Cup semifinal clash in Johannesburg on Saturday.
After resting most of his frontline players against the Blue Bulls last week Ackermann has made five changes to his forward pack and six in the backline.
In the front row skipper JC Janse van Rensburg returns at loosehead prop in place of CJ van der Linde and Jacobie Adriaanse replaces Pat Cilliers at tighthead prop, with Van der Linde and Cilliers bracketed on the bench.
Lock Franco van der Merwe returns to the starting line-up ahead of Paul Willemse to partner Michael Rhodes and in the loose trio Cobus Grobbelaar replaces Jaco Kriel who shifts to the other side of the scrum in place of Derick Minnie.
At the back of the scrum, Warren Whiteley is preferred ahead of Willie Britz.
In the backline, Michael Bondesio starts at scrumhalf in place of Ross Cronje, Elton Jantjies replaces Butch James at flyhalf with James moving to the bench.
Springbok Jaco Taute starts in place of the injured Deon van Rensburg at outside centre, while Ruan Combrinck shifts from fullback to right wing, replacing Deon Helberg in the process with Andries Coetzee starting at fullback.
The Lions were guaranteed a home semifinal before the Bulls fixture and Ackermann believes his decision to exclude his seasoned campaigners paid-off heading into the knockout stage of the competition.
"It was more important for me to have fresh players than the momentum," Ackermann explained.
"Against the Bulls, it was not like we were overwhelmed and demolished by a side with a lot of Springboks, so I am confident that it was more important that some of the players are fresh for this game.
"It's only a once-off game (semifinal), you don't want to regret it by saying, 'if only I had rested this or that.'
"We would have been a lot more clinical, so I knew for 60 minutes we were good enough to win that game, its nothing to panic about."
Ackermann added that he was not tempted to include former Bok pivot Butch James - who captained the side against the Bulls - at inside centre next to Jantjies for the crunch game, as James preferred not to play out of position and instead would serve as cover from the replacements bench.
He said the team would be motivated to play in such a vital game and would look to draw on their experience from last year's successful Currie Cup campaign.
"They know how important it is and then obviously we want to be in that final so that's great motivation and that brings the excitement to the training as well."
Turning his attention to their opponents, Ackermann said he was expecting a tough encounter against Western Province.
"You just have to look at the team-sheet and you know that they are a good side. They've got a bunch of individuals that can break a game open, so we as a team have to look after them.
"They will be physical because that's an area where they probably think they can attack us... we are well prepared and the guys are excited. The good thing for us is that we know we can beat them.
"We've beaten them this year in the Currie Cup and we beat them last year so we are confident that we can, but we are not thinking that it's going to come easily."
The match will also serve as Cobus Grobbelaar’s Benefit Match ahead of his retirement. Following his many years of loyal service, Grobbelaar will be given a percentage of the gate takings.
Golden Lions: 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 (captain).
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.
Date: Saturday, October 20
Venue: Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 19.00 (18.00 GMT)
Referee: Marius Jonker
Assistant referees: Sindile Mayende, Stefan Breytenbach
TMO: Johann Meuwesen