Lions give the team that delivered a stunning performance against the Cheetahs the thumbs up

17 December 2020 - 16:11 By Liam Del Carme
Wandisile Simelane of the Lions, right, during the Super Rugby Unlocked match between Emirates Lions and Tafel Lager Griquas at Emirates Airline Park on October 30 2020 in Johannesburg.
Wandisile Simelane of the Lions, right, during the Super Rugby Unlocked match between Emirates Lions and Tafel Lager Griquas at Emirates Airline Park on October 30 2020 in Johannesburg.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

The Lions gave the men who delivered arguably their best performance of the season last weekend the thumbs up for Saturday's Currie Cup clash against the Sharks at Ellis Park.

There are‚ however‚ question marks over the availability of loosehead prop Sti Sithole and flank Vincent Tshituka‚ who are both struggling with niggles. The latter was one of the outstanding performers in the Lions' win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last weekend. They will both undergo late fitness tests to establish their readiness for the Sharks.

Tshituka has been one of the team's most consistent performers and his presence will be much needed again. Should he not come through his fitness test‚ his place will go to Wilhelm van der Sluys who will lend considerably more bulk to the Lions pack. “Wilhelm will start at seven‚ and Willem (Alberts) will remain at lock. Willem has started doing good work for us at four‚” said coach Ivan van Rooyen.

He explained that an enforced change would rob the Lions of Tshituka's impact in less frequented areas.

“Vince is in really good form. His work rate is exceptionally high. His contributions are huge in the squad. He gets to places and does things other players don't. He will certainly be missed if he doesn't make it.”

Despite the team's stunning performance against the Cheetahs‚ Van Rooyen would have been tempted to make one or two adjustments.

Scrumhalf Morne van den Berg made a huge impact off the bench in Bloemfontein but double try scorer Andre Warner helped give the team a solid start.

Tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis was also one of the standout performers last weekend but Carlu Sadie who got married two Saturdays ago would ordinarily start for the Lions.

“Carlu is busy getting fit. He's not in a position yet where we can give him 40‚ 60 or 80 minutes. He will have a big session on Friday and he should be available for selection from next Monday‚” said Van Rooyen.

Centre Burger Odendaal and Jamba Ulengo are back among the substitutes for Saturday's clash.

Lions team to play the Sharks: Tiaan Swanepoel; Stean Pienaar; Wandisile Simelane; Dan Kriel; Courtnall Skosan; Elton Jantjies (captain); André Warner; Len Massyn; Vincent Tshituka/Wilhelm van der Sluys; Jaco Kriel; Marvin Orie; Willem Alberts; Jannie du Plessis; Jaco Visagie; Sti Sithole/Dylan Smith. Substitutes from: Jan-Henning Campher; Ruan Dreyer; Wiehahn Herbst; Reinhard Nothnagel; Roelof Smit; Morné van den Berg; Burger Odendaal; Jamba Ulengo; Carlu Sadie; Manuel Rass.


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