Lions choose the road to Ruan

Clash against the Sharks pivotal if they are going to turn their season around

17 February 2023 - 14:00
subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now
Ruan Dreyer runs out for the Lions against the Bulls before a URC clash at Ellis Park. He has recovered from injury and will do duty against the Sharks on Saturday.
Ruan Dreyer runs out for the Lions against the Bulls before a URC clash at Ellis Park. He has recovered from injury and will do duty against the Sharks on Saturday.
Image: Anton Geyser (Gallo Images)

Given their underwhelming recent results, the Lions must be desperate to set foot on the road to recovery but their selections for their United Rugby Championship (URC) clash against the Sharks at Ellis Park on Saturday suggest it is the one to “Ruan”.

They have four Ruan's in their squad for the clash, though one's parents opted to insert rugby poles in the middle of his name.

Flank Ruan Venter, prop Ruan Dreyer, lock Ruan Delport and Ruhan Straeuli are in the match day squad, though the Lions probably missed a trick by not elevating front ranker Ruan Smith who is earmarked to play in the curtain raiser.

While Delport could make his debut off the bench, the most significant Ruan inclusion is perhaps that of substitute prop Dreyer. The Springbok has been on the sidelines since December when he injured a hamstring in their Challenge Cup clash against the Dragons.

His experience will come in handy in the second half as the Lions hope to apply the squeeze on the Sharks who may by then be huffing and puffing in the thin highveld air.

The Lions are in desperate need of a win, not just to keep alive their prospects of a top eight finish, but for their morale. Three defeats on their most recent travels would have battered their confidence but playing at home presents them the opportunity for redress.

Among their backs, Rabz Maxwane, Manuel Rass and Gianni Lombard have cracked the nod in the starting team. In the absence of the injured Jaden Hendrikse, Lombard's performance will be a point of interest. He delivered some composed performances earlier this season but maintaining those standards were always going to be a challenge.

The Lions have opted to go into the clash with a six-two split on the bench with scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba one of the two backline options. Nohamba has returned from injury and will chomping at the bit to have a go at his former teammates.

The Lions team to play the Sharks — Quan Horn; Rabz Maxwane, Manuel Rass, Marius Louw (captain), Edwill van der Merwe; Gianni Lombard, Morne van den Berg; Emmanuel Tshituka, Ruan Venter, Jaco Kriel; Ruben Schoeman, Willem Alberts; Asenathi Ntlabakanye, PJ Botha, JP Smith. Substitutes: Michael van Vuuren, Morgan Naude, Ruan Dreyer, Ruan Delport, Sibusiso Sangweni, Ruhan Straeuli; Sanele Nohamba, Rynhardt Jonker.

Support independent journalism by subscribing to the Sunday Times. Just R20 for the first month.


subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now

Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.