Lions make raft of changes for clash against the Hurricanes in Wellington
Their misadventure against the Reds‚ as well as squad rotation‚ have seen the Lions make a raft of changes for their clash against the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday.
Speed merchant Aphiwe Dyantyi‚ who made such an electrifying start to the season‚ returns to the side in the spot previously occupied by Madosh Tambwe after recovering from a pectoral muscle injury.
While Tambwe reached dizzying heights by scoring four tries against the Stormers‚ Dyantyi’s explosiveness may prove useful against a Hurricanes side laden with pyrotechnics of their own.
Lionel Mapoe has recovered from injury and is back in midfield‚ while Nic Groom gets a start at scrumhalf after Dillon Smit underwhelmed in that position in Brisbane.
Tambwe and Smit drops out of the match day 23.
Up front too‚ the Lions are hoping to light things up with the inclusion of fiery flank Marnus Schoeman who earns his first start.
Schoeman has made quite an impact after coming off the bench in recent matches. He punches above his weight in contact.
Jacobie Adriaanse and Dylan Smith are the new props with Ruan Dreyer and Jacques van Rooyen yielding to the team’s rotation policy.
Scrum penalties too haunted the Lions in Brisbane and the rotation probably addresses the matter in the short term.
The inconsistent Lions were spared the coach’s verbal blow torch in Queensland but they seemed to have responded to Swys de Bruin’s half time pep talk.
“We are in a professional environment‚ so hard words aren’t always the solution‚” said De Bruin.
“The right words were spoken at half time. We changed our strategy.
“The reasons we didn’t play in the first half the way we trained‚ we just don’t know.
"We are looking at it.”
Against the Hurricanes the Lions can ill afford another lethargic start.
The Hurricanes‚ who are effectively at full strength‚ are unlikely to be as charitable as the Reds and the score will balloon out of control if the Lions dare have a bad patch.
The defeat against the Reds means the Lions will be desperate to get at least one win in their two remaining matches on New Zealand soil.
“Any win now is important‚” reminded De Bruin.
“We are going towards the end. We will want to get more points out of this tour. We are going all out in this game and the next (against the Highlanders).”
The Hurricanes will field a formidable starting line-up for the clash with some of their brightest stars returning from a mandatory All Blacks enforced break.
The Barrett brothers are in the backline‚ Julian Savea is on the right wing‚ while Nehe Milner-Skudder was only good enough for the bench.
In-form backliner Vince Aso wasn’t deemed good enough to crack the match day 23.
Jordie Barrett; Julian Savea‚ Matt Proctor‚ Ngani Laumape‚ Ben Lam; Beauden Barrett‚ Finlay Christie; Garth Evans‚ Ardie Savea‚ Brad Shields (captain); Michael Fatialofa‚ Vaea Fifita; Jeff To’omaga-Allen‚ Ricky Riccitelli‚ Toby Smith.
James O’Reilly‚ Chris Eves‚ Ben May‚ Sam Lousi‚ Reed Prinsep‚ Jamie Booth‚ Ihaia West‚ Nehe Milner-Skudder.
The Lions team is:
Andries Coetzee; Ruan Combrinck‚ Lionel Mapoe‚ Harold Vorster‚ Aphiwe Dyantyi; Elton Jantjies‚ Nic Groom; Kwagga Smith‚ Cyle Brink‚ Marnus Schoeman; Franco Mostert‚ Lourens Erasmus; Jacobie Adriaanse‚ Malcolm Marx‚ Dylan Smith.
Robbie Coetzee‚ Ruan Dreyer‚ Johannes Jonker‚ Marvin Orie‚ Hacjivah Dayimani; Ashlon Davids‚ Rohan Janse van Rensburg‚ Sylvian Mahuza.