Johannesburg - They may boast an unbeaten record after six rounds in this year’s Currie Cup but the Lions still have no intention to underestimate any team as they brace themselves for Saturday’s Currie Cup clash against the Sharks at Ellis Park.
Lions coach Johan Ackermann cautioned against complacency as the team face a ‘wounded’ Sharks team that have been blowing hot and cold this season.
“It is a quality side, and people may disagree with me because we haven’t lost a game but if you look at how many players with Super Rugby experience they have there is a lot of quality in that side,” Ackermann said at the team announcement in Johannesburg on Thursday.
“We didn’t play well against them down in Durban, we know they will come out firing and it is a massive challenge for us as it will be a big thing for them to come and beat us up here.”
In their first match a month ago the Lions claimed a 31-9 victory over the Sharks in Durban and Ackermann predicted the visitors would be desperate to turn the tables on Saturday.
While the Sharks are still in the playoffs hunt, lying in fourth place on the log, a defeat could give their hopes a serious knock.
Only four points separate the Sharks from the sixth placed Pumas, while the Cheetahs are only a point adrift in fifth place.
Over the weekend the Lions had to stave off a spirited fightback by the Blue Bulls after the men from Johannesburg went into the half-time break with a 30-7 lead to eventually claim a 36-28 victory.
Meanwhile, Ackermann rotated half of his pack with 22-year-old lock Lourens Erasmus earning a starting berth in the place of the injured Martin Muller.
Kwagga Smith will partner captain Jaco Kriel at flank while the front row will once again be rotated with Julian Redelinghuys and Malcolm Marx starting with Ruan Dreyer moving from tighthead to loosehead.
Regular captain Warren Whiteley has still not recovered sufficiently from a calf injury, which sees Kriel retain the captaincy.
15. Andries Coetzee, 14. Ruan Combrinck, 13. Stokkies Hanekom, 12. Howard Mnisi, 11. Courtnall Skosan, 10. Marnitz Boshoff, 9. Ross Cronje, 8. Fabian Booysen, 7. Kwagga Smith, 6. Jaco Kriel (captain), 5. Franco Mostert, 4. Lourens Erasmus, 3. Julian Redelinghuys, 2. Malcolm Marx, 1. Ruan Dreyer
Substitutes: 16. Robbie Coetzee, 17. Jacques van Rooyen, 18. MB Lusaseni, 19. Stephan de Witt, 20. Jaco van der Walt, 21. Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 22. Antony Volmink
15. Odwa Ndungane, 14. Wandile Mjekevu, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. S'bura Sithole, 10. Joe Pietersen, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Philip van der Walt, 7. Jean-Luc du Preez, 6. Francois Kleinhans, 5. Marco Wentzel (captain), 4. Etienne Oosthuizen, 3. Gerhard Engelbrecht, 2. Franco Marais, 1. Thomas du Toit
Substitutes: 16. Monde Hadebe, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Dave McDuling, 19. Daniel du Preez, 20. Michael Claassens, 21. Heimar Williams, 22. Garth April