Cape Town - Lions coach Johan Ackermann rotated his squad significantly to let a number of fringe players get their start against the Jaguares in their Vodacom Super Rugby match at Ellis Park on Saturday.
According to the supersport.com website, Ackermann made six changes to the side that whipped the Blues last weekend in the rain for this weekend’s clash.
In the midfield Howard Mnisi replaces Rohan Janse van Rensburg, while Faf de Klerk starts once again ahead of Ross Cronje. At flank the impressive young Cyle Brink gets a start in the place of Warwick Tecklenburg while Lourens Erasmus makes a long-awaited return to the starting line-up in the place of the injured Martin Muller.
Akker van der Merwe is in at hooker in the place of Malcolm Marx while Corne Fourie rounds up the rotation with Dylan Smith dropping to the bench.
While a number of players have been given a chance to shine for the squad, Ackermann wishes he could have rotated even more. Still, the coach believes the new starters need to fill the boots of those they are replacing without the Lions having a mis-step.
“There are some players I feel need to rotate, and I would have liked to rotate more if we could have but the players get that opportunity. It is obviously putting your hand up to start and challenging for that position,” Ackermann said.
“We have a lot of faith in the whole squad. We believe that every guy must be good enough to start. I also believe it keeps that hunger and energy up and every time you select a new player he obviously wants to use that opportunity to perform. It keeps everyone on their toes.”
Ackermann said he had thought of resting the likes of captain Warren Whiteley, lock Franco Mostert and star flyhalf Elton Jantjies but believes as long as they are playing this well, there is no need to rest them.
“It can be nice, but again as I said we obviously must have those players who can stand in there. A guy who can obviously rotate with Franco is Martin Muller, but he is injured. Therefore Franco is one of those guys the more he plays the better he gets. The same with Warren and Elton, so as long as they are playing like they are playing they will go on,” he added.
The Lions coach also warned about underestimating the Jaguares this weekend.
“The one thing we know is they have a lot of quality players, and they were unlucky in some of the results. They were never really humiliated in any games. There were one or two games where they lost with more than seven points but they were always in it. If you look at the 9 and 10 combination, the locks and the front rows, it is all guys we will see soon in the international season. It is a quality side and as long as we play to our standards as they are a dangerous side and can beat any side in this competition.”
The Lions will look to cement their place at the top of their conference if they win this game against the South American newcomers.
Kick-off is at 15:00.
15 Jaco van der Walt, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Lourens Erasmus, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Corné Fourie
Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Jacques van Rooyen, 19 Ruan Ackermann, 20 Warwick Tecklenburg, 21 Ross Cronjé, 22 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 23 Sylvian Mahuza
15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Emiliano Boffelli, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Lucas González Amorosino, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo (captain), 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Tomás Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Matías Alemanno, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Julián Montoya, 1 Santiago García Botta.
Substitutes: 16 Facundo Bosch, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Santiago González Iglesias, 23 Ramiro Moyano