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Lions need to revamp their backline

Tue, 15 Jul 2014 17:53
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Up front we are fine
Quote-end

The Lions will field a revamped backline when they start their Currie Cup campaign early next month.

The high-flying Lions, fresh from their best Super Rugby season ever, face the Blue Bulls at Ellis Park on August 9 in the first round of South Africa's premier domestic competition.

However, they will lose a host of their backline stars from the Super Rugby squad.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann, speaking to rugby365 in the wake of a three-match winning streak at the end of the Super Rugby season, said his forward pack will stay virtually intact.

"The team will change a little bit," Ackermann said, when asked about which players will be departing.

"We received a lot of support from the Pumas and Leopards," the coach said, adding: "Akker [replacement hooker Armand van der Merwe], who comes from the Leopards, we are looking to see if he can stay on for the Currie Cup.

"It all depends what happens with the Leopards, whether they qualify [to play in the Premier Division] or not.

"The Pumas have qualified for the Currie Cup, so Coenie [van Wyk], Stefan [Watermeyer], Corne [Fourie], JW Jonker, [Faf] Francois de Klerk and Rudi Mathee are all going back [to the Pumas].

"They all made a massive contribution. Most of those guys were in the matchday 23 week-after-week."

Those are guys we have to replace, but it will provide opportunity for other guys and it will be a challenge for them to fill those gaps."

The Lions will also be without the services of two of their three Springboks - flyhalf Elton Jantjies is heading to Japan and lock Franco van der Merwe is joining Irish province Ulster. Also, replacement loose forward Willie Britz will move to the Cheetahs.

"We will have to make some changes, but the core of our team remains intact," Ackermann told rugby365.

"The front row [Julian Redelinghuys, Robbie Coetzee and Schalk van der Merwe], [lock] Franco Mostert, [as well as loose forwards] Jaco Kriel,  Warren Whiteley and Warwick Tecklenburg stay on.

"We will take a strong core into the Currie Cup competition.

"It is in the backline, where Coenie [van Wyk], Stefan [Watermeyer], Faf [Francois de Klerk] and JW Jonker all leave.

"However, up front we are fine, so we are looking forward to the Currie Cup competition."

Lions squad: Marnitz Boshoff, Fabian Booysen, Andries Coetzee, Robbie Coetzee, Ruan Combrink, Ross Cronje, Ruan Dreyer, JP du Plessis, Nicolaas Hanekom, Deon Helberg, Alwyn Hollenbach, Jaco Kriel, Ruaan Lerm, Luvuyiso Lusaseni, Lionel Mapoe, Derek Minnie, Franco Mostert, Tyson Mulamba, Mark Pretorius, Julian Redelinghuys, Ricky Schroeder, Courtnall Skosan, Warwick Tecklenburg, Schalk van der Merwe, Schalk van Heerden (new signing), Jacques van Rooyen, Armand van der Merwe (new signing), Anthony Volmink, Willie Wepener, Warren Whitely, Vainon Willis, Malcolm Marx, Cyle Brink, Victor Sekekete, Thabo Mabuza, Ramone Samuels.

By Jan de Koning

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