Lobberts hits giant milestone as Currie Cup heats up
Twelve years after making his first-class debut‚ former Springbok flank Hilton Lobberts will play his 150th match at this level when he runs out for the Pumas against Western Province on Friday evening.
Lobberts‚ 31‚ who was a member of the 2005 Junior Springbok world championship-winning team‚ will feature on the Pumas’ bench for the Currie Cup match in Nelspruit.
A career that has seen Lobberts play for the Blue Bulls‚ WP and Griquas‚ as well as two Tests for the Boks‚ continues in a new home this season‚ where the veteran looseforward will no doubt give his all as he has always done.
It’s a critical match for the Pumas who are still well in contention for a Currie Cup semifinal place. But to achieve that goal will require winning all their remaining two home games at the very least.
The Pumas are currently fifth in the standings on 18 points‚ two points behind the fourth-placed Golden Lions. Beating WP is non-negotiable if they want to keep pressure on for a semi berth.
To do it‚ they will need to end an eight-year winless drought against WP‚ but they have been impressive at times this season and it’s not a match the visitors are taking lightly.
WP coach John Dobson has picked his strongest possible team‚ which sees a return for Blitzbok wing Seabelo Senatla from injury while No.8 Nizaam Carr plays his 50th match for the union.
After losing their last two matches by a point and two points respectively‚ Pumas coach Brent Janse van Rensburg has made five changes to the team. Centre Gerrit Smith‚ scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer and lock Hugo Kloppers all return to the run-on team.
In the first match of the weekend earlier on Friday in Kimberley‚ the Sharks will be determined to register their eighth successive victory of the season when they meet Griquas‚ while the hosts will be desperate to bounce back after four consecutive losses.
The KwaZulu-Natalians have a solid track record against their Kimberley counterparts with the side having won five of their last six matches dating back to 2013.
The Sharks team shows five personnel changes‚ with prop Juan Schoeman and hooker Franco Marais starting a new-look front row‚ while winger Odwa Ndungane and centre Marius Louw have also been handed starts.
Griquas also made five changes‚ which includes George Whitehead starting at flyhalf‚ while prop Stephan Kotze and lock Jonathan Adendorf are drafted into the run-on team.
The Golden Lions will be hunting their third successive victory on Saturday when they take on the Blue Bulls in Johannesburg. The Pretoria side have won three of the last four match-ups between the teams since 2014.
The visitors are coming off a bye. Fit-again Blue Bulls centre Burger Odendaal returns to captain the side in one of seven changes‚ which also sees Warrick Gelant reclaim the No.15 jersey and flanker Nic de Jager and No.8 Jano Venter being included in the loose trio.
The Lions‚ in turn‚ made only one personnel change to the starting team as lock Andries Ferreira returns following the birth of his child‚ while a notable inclusion on the bench is that of prop Dylan Smith‚ who last played in March due to injury.
Griquas v Sharks‚ Olen Park‚ 5pm
Pumas v Western Province‚ Mbombela Stadium‚ 7.15pm
Golden Lions v Blue Bulls‚ Ellis Park‚ 5.15pm