Stormers' Leon Lyons ‘one to watch’‚ says Dobson‚ naming prop to play Pumas
Highly-rated loosehead prop Leon Lyons gets a crack in the Stormers team to play the Pumas on Friday.
His entry to the starting team is one of three changes to the side that beat the Lions in their Super Rugby Unlocked (SRU) clash at Newlands last week.
Coach John Dobson stressed Lyons would have been in the starting team even if loosehead regular Steven Kitshoff was available to play. Kitshoff and hooker Scarra Ntubeni have been ruled out - forced to isolate, having come into contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.
In the other changes Chris van Zyl comes into the second row for JD Schickerling‚ while Edwill van der Merwe replaces Sergeal Petersen on the right wing.
The coach is enthused by what he saw of Lyons. “He is a player we are very excited about. He has come through our junior ranks‚ he is a really strong‚ big loosehead in much of a ‘Kitsie’ mould.
“He did really well for us in U21 and wasn’t available before lockdown because of injury. He is a good ball-carrier and a really good scrumming loosehead. I don’t expect he will have it all his own way – it is his first game and he hasn’t played anything beyond U21 rugby.
“He is someone who is going to come through as one of the outstanding looseheads in SA. He is one to watch. It might not be his peak on Friday‚ but the start of a great journey‚” he said.
Dobson expressed the hope his team can draw from their unconventional build-up to the clash.
“Maybe the adversity we are facing is good for us and will focus our minds. Last week’s performance already had us well-grounded so we will be up for it‚” he said.
They may need it against a Pumas side who were fired up in their win over Griquas last week.
“They would have got confidence from last week and we have had a tough week having had to prepare in two days with the disruption of the Covid issues.
“I have been up here a few times – we lost here in the 2017 Currie Cup. It is obviously the first time‚ if only in title‚ that the Stormers play the Pumas‚” said Dobson.
Captain Siya Kolisi for the first time returns to the Mbombela Stadium, where he made his Test debut in 2013.
“I think the only time that I have played here was my first Test for the Springboks and I am really excited to be here and get my first opportunity against the Pumas‚” said Kolisi.
Stormers team to play the Pumas: Warrick Gelant, Edwill van der Merwe‚ Dan du Plessis‚ Rikus Pretorius‚ Leolin Zas; Damian Willemse‚ Herschel Jantjies; Juarno Augustus‚ Ernst van Rhyn‚ Siya Kolisi (captain); Chris van Zyl‚ Salmaan Moerat; Frans Malherbe‚ Bongi Mbonambi‚ Leon Lyons. Substitutes: Chad Solomon‚ Kwenzo Blose‚ Neethling Fouche‚ JD Schickerling‚ Nama Xaba‚ Jaco Coetzee‚ Godlen Masimla‚ Michal Haznar‚ Tim Swiel‚ Tristan Leyds.