Johannesburg - Lions coach Johan Ackermann on
Tuesday included his two returning Springboks in Elton Jantjies and Jaco
Taute for their semi-final clash against Western Province in
Johannesburg on Saturday.
The newly-capped Boks form part of
eleven changes made by Ackermann to the starting XV after the Lions boss
decided to give his key players a rest during their final league clash
against the Blue Bulls last weekend.
The Lions were guaranteed a
home semi-final 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.
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 (semi-final), you don't want to regret it by saying, 'if only I had rested this or that.'
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."
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.
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
"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.
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.
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
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)
Substitutes: 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