Vodacom Super 14

Mokuena: My year, my time

2010-02-04 22:47
Jonathan Mokuena while still playing for Griquas. (Gallo Images)
Pieter Jordaan

Johannesburg – “It’s my year and my time”

New Lions No 8 Jonathan Mokuena may already be 28 years old, but he believes he is ready to make an impact in the Super14.

Mokuena will play his second game for the Lions on Friday when they take on the Pumas at the Puma Stadium at 18h30.

His move from Griquas to the Lions has made the loss of Willem Alberts easier for the Gauteng team to cope with.

“It’s my second game in this set-up and I’m feeling very comfortable,” said Mokuena.

“The big difference is the professional manner in which things are done here. You can feel there is a turnaround under the new coaching staff and management team.”

Mokuena carved a reputation as a Springbok Sevens player earlier in his career, but surprisingly has not played Super14 rugby yet.

It’s another able Sevens player – Todd Clever – who is set to push him hard for the No 8 jersey. Clever is not just the captain of the United States rugby team, but was also a good Sevens player for his country.

Mokuena and Clever were among the Lions’ best players in Saturday’s training games against the Bulls, but it’s the former Griquas player that has been picked in a loose-trio with Cobus Grobbelaar and Franco van der Merwe for Friday’s main game.

“There is a lot of good competition (among the loose forwards) here. I don’t think I played particularly well against the Bulls. Yes, I broke the line twice, but it did not lead to tries,” said Mokuena.

Apart from the clash against the Pumas, a number of other contenders will play for a Lions trial team against the Leopards at the Puma Stadium at 16h30.

Lions coach Dick Muir hopes to test strategies, systems and combinations.

“We’re much closer to a starting team than we were against the Bulls, but a few places in the team still have to be decided,” said Muir.

The centre combination is one of Muir’s main priorities. Doppies la Grange and Deon van Rensburg will be the centre pairing against the Pumas, with Walter Venter and Alwyn Hollenbach set to play against the Leopards.

There is also a lot of expectation linked to Carlos Spencer’s debut at flyhalf in the game against the Pumas. Other acquisitions such as Jacques Lombaard (lock), JP Joubert (scrumhalf) and Tonderai Chavhanga (wing) are also due to make their first appearance in Lions red.


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