Coach Dick Muir has picked a side that resembles close to the correct combination to do battle in the Super 14. The Team selected, the so-called Red Team will play newly promoted Currie Cup side Pumas in one of the Lions’ two Super 14 warm-up matches in Witbank on Friday.
Former All Blacks flyhalf Carlos Spencer will run on in Lions colours for the first time, playing in a side that shows a number of changes to the side that lost 42-12 to the Bulls in Polokwane on Saturday.
In another interesting selection in what can be termed the A-team Wandile Mjekevu – who turned 19 less than a month ago – gets a run on the wing after impressing in his few minutes on the field in Polokwane.
Doppies la Grange brings a lot of experience in midfield where he partners Deon van Rensburg, while Chris Jonck will be Spencer’s halfback partner after a good game in the early match on Saturday.
Jonathan Mokuena will be at No 8 after a good performance against the Bulls in the early match – but Todd Clever, in the “B”- side for now, must have got close with his impressive performance in the main game. The game plan decided on for a particular match will probably see these two see-saw it out during the season.
Hooker Hannes Franklin gets a further chance to stake his Super 14 claim against the Pumas side he captained last year, and generally the Lions look a solid side with lots of experience and more than just a smattering of talent.
Earl Lewis, who impressed in the Varsity Cup match on Monday night when he had a few minutes run after a long injury lay-off, gets a run in the B-side against the Leopards in the early match. Springbok Earl Rose is on the bench after missing the Polokwane games because of a hamstring pull, while Tonderai Chavanga will probably also get a run from the enlarged bench.
Muir has given most of the players who missed out last weekend a run, and it is certain that a number of them are still in the reckoning for the final squad to be announced next week.
Black team (v Leopards, 4.30pm):
Earl Lewis, Marius Delport, Alwyn Hollenbach, Walter Venter, Trompie Notshinga, Herkie Kruger, Alex Kock, Todd Clever, Thabo Mamojele, Johan van Deventer, Willem Stoltz, George Earl, Ross Geldenhuys, Hanyani Shimange, JC Janse van Rensburg. Replacements: Hans van Dyk, Gert Muller, David Bulbring, Robert Kruger, Ruan Boshoff, Jannie Boshoff, Justin St Jerry, Pieter Engelbrecht, Henno Mentz, Shandre Frolick, Rouan Cloete. (captain to be announced later).
Red team (v Pumas, 6.30pm):
Michael Killian, Dusty Noble, Deon Van Rensburg, Doppies la Grange, Wandile Mjekevu, Carlos Spencer, Chris Jonck, Jonathan Mokuena, Franco van der Merwe, Cobus Grobbelaar (capt.), Nico Luus, Jannes Labuschagne, Kevin Buys, Hannes Franklin, Heinke van der Merwe. Replacements: Charles Enslie, Lawrence Sephaka, Jacques Lombaard, Derrick Minnie, JP Joubert, Burton Francis, Wigan Pekeur, Tonderai Chavhanga, Earl Rose, Danie Crous.