Johannesburg - Lions coach Swys de Bruin pulled a rabbit out of the hat with the selection of Lourens Erasmus at flank for his side’s crucial Super Rugby semi-final against the Waratahs at Ellis Park on Saturday (15:05 kick-off).
Erasmus, who has been on the fringes of the side for a while now, but mostly at lock, hasn’t played in the loose forwards since junior rugby and the move is designed to give the loose trio some extra pace and an extra lineout option for the big game.
The move was partly necessitated by the injury to Cyle Brink, who didn’t recover from the “stinger” on his arm and has been forced to sit the game out.
But normally the Lions have moved Franco Mostert to flank in the past with much success, but De Bruin didn’t want to break up his lock combination ahead of such a big game and was impressed with the way that
Erasmus performed when he came on as a substitute in the quarter-final against the Jaguares last weekend.
“It is just a bit of horses for courses, a bit of tactical thinking. Our four, five and seven in general attack play together a lot. Franco is just doing so well at lock lately, so we feel it is a bit much to move him. But we might swap the roles a bit during the game,” De Bruin told SuperSport.com.
“He played No 8 as an under-21 player and has played loose forward at school at Garsfontein and he is familiar with that. It is more a case of in the team than who is five and who is seven, you will see on the field we will move them around.
“I don’t know if you guys can recall when he came on the pace he showed across the park, and it will be a 15:00 game, the air will be thin and he will be valuable.”
De Bruin said losing Brink, one of the standouts in the team’s campaign this season, was a massive blow to the side.
“It’s a huge blow, definitely Cyle will be a loss. But we trust in our system and in the guys who have to stand in. As you can recall at a point in the season we lost our whole spine, Ross included. We lost Warren (Whiteley), (Jaco) Kriel and (Ruan) Combrinck and the other guys stood in. In fact, the other guys got us back on track and got us here so the guys can play again.”
De Bruin said he hoped the early kick-off would work in his side’s favour, and will be looking to up the tempo early on in the game.
“Especially up here at home, the guys enjoy playing at 15:00. I joked the last time the air is thinner at 15:00, but according to the clever guys the air is the same at 17:00. There is still a thing and it is all in the head but the guys still enjoy playing at 15:00 and a lot of our training is at quarter to three. On a Tuesday afternoon it is quarter past two, so we are used to the sun and a lot of the time the guys are used to it,” he added.
If the Lions win, they will either have to travel to Christchurch to face the Crusaders, or stay at home to face the Hurricanes, depending on who wins the other semi-final between the two New Zealand sides.
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold
Vorster, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren
Whiteley (captain), 7 Louren Erasmus, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4
Marvin Orie, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van
16 Corne Fourie, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Hacjivah
Dayimani, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Courtnall Skosan, 23
Israel Folau, 14 Alex Newsome, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11
Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Bernard Foley (captain), 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Michael
Wells, 7 Will Miller, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Jed Holloway, 3
Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Tom Robertson
Substitutes: 16 Damien
Fitzpatrick, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Tom Staniforth,
20 Brad Wilkin, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Cam Clark
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