JOHANNESBURG – Stand-in Lions Currie Cup coach Ivan van Rooyen has challenged his players to become better athletes over the course of this year’s Currie Cup campaign.
The Lions kick-off their challenge with a match against the Pumas at Ellis Park tomorrow (3pm). The shortened competition will see each team play six matches before the knockout rounds.
“We’ve set a number of different challenges, for the team, and for the individuals,” said Van Rooyen yesterday when he named his line-up for the match.
“Those challenges have to do with a number of things and they include daily and weekly challenges, on and off the field. At the end of the competition, after six, or seven, or eight games, if the players go to bed at night and they’re better athletes, better people, then I know we’ve made progress and are going forward.”
Van Rooyen was referring mostly to the big group of young players he will work with over the course of the next few weeks. The Lions have lost several players to overseas clubs since Super Rugby, while others are injured or training with the Boks.
There is, however, still a good smattering of experience in the team to play the Pumas this weekend. In the backs, only centre Wayne van der Bank and wing Stean Pienaar haven’t played Super Rugby, while up front, the least experienced man is No 8 James Venter, with all the other players having featured in Super Rugby at some stage this season.
In an exciting back division, Tyrone Green, Madosh Tambwe and Wandisile Simelane should have the Pumas on high alert, while in the forwards Vincent Tshituka and Marnus Schoeman have shown they’re always a handful.
Van Rooyen said he was excited about going up against the Pumas first-up in the competition. “We all had some time off after Super Rugby and have spent the last 10 days or so preparing for our first game back,” said Van Rooyen.
Scrumhalf Ross Cronje has been appointed the captain for the duration of the competition.
The Lions team is:
Tyrone Green, Madosh Tambwe, Wandisile Simelane, Wayne van der Bank, Stean Pienaar, Shaun Reynolds, Ross Cronje (capt), James Venter, Vincent Tshituka, Marnus Schoeman, Reinhard Nothnagel, Rhyno Herbst, Johannes Jonker, Jan-Henning Campher, Dylan Smith.
Replacements: Pieter Jansen, Sti Sithole, Jacobie Adriaanse, Ruben Schoeman, Len Massyn, Dillon Smit, Manual Rass, Jan-Louis la Grange