Emirates Lions have today announced a 33-man touring squad ahead of their inaugural United Rugby Championship (URC) campaign.
The Johannesburg- based outfit, face Italian side Zebre on Heritage Day in their opening fixture of the northern hemisphere competition.
Head coach Ivan ‘Cash’ van Rooyen believes the traveling group has what it takes to negotiate the unfamiliar conditions the men in red and white will encounter over their 4-week tour.
Commenting on the selections coach Ivan Van Rooyen said: “We’re pretty excited about this group.”
“As a coaching unit we’ve been fortunate enough to have time to discuss and plan how we want to approach the URC. This was coupled with a few on-field sessions before settling on a final 33.”
“We expect conditions to be challenging up north but at the same time looking forward to competing and establishing ourselves as the competition progresses,” concluded the Emirates Lions mentor.
A welcome return to the side for lock Wilhelm van Der Sluys after fully recovering from a shoulder injury. Also included in the touring party are new loan recruits Pieter Jansen van Vuren, Eddie Fouche, Matt More, Morgan Naude and Ginter Smuts. Springboks Ross Cronje (ankle surgery) and Willem Alberts (hamstring rehabilitation) were not considered for selection, so too talented playmaker Gianni Lombard (ankle injury) All three however form part of the greater URC squad and will be available for selection once fully recovered.
Emirates Lions URC Touring Squad
PJ Botha, Morne Brandon, Ruan Dreyer, Jannie Du Plessis, Francke Horn, Pieter Jansen van Vuren, Jaco Kriel Morgan Naude, Reinhard Nothnagel, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Carlu Sadie, Sibusiso Sangweni, Ruben Schoeman, Sti Sithole, Ruhan Straeuli, Emmanuel Tshituka, Vincent Tshituka, Wilhelm van der Sluys and Jaco Visagie.
Eddie Fouche, Jordan Hendrikse, Sibahle ‘Rabz’ Maxwane, Matt More, Burger Odendaal,
Stean Pienaar, Manuel Rass, Divan Rossouw, Wandisile Simelane, Ginter Smuts, Jamba Ulengo, Morne Van den Berg, EW Viljoen and Andre Warner.
Emirates Lions tour fixtures
24 September- Zebre vs Emirates Lions (Parma)
1 October- Scarlets vs Emirates Lions (Llanelli)
9 October- Glasgow Warriors vs Emirates Lions (Glasgow)
15 October- Ulster vs Emirates Lions (Belfast)