By Mark Gleeson
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s Lions are promising a physical and aggressive approach when they play their British and Irish namesakes in the opening match of this year’s tour at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The Johannesburg-based Lions’coach Ivan van Rooyen said it was a unique opportunity for his players.
"It’s a massive honour to be the first side to play against the Lions on tour and it’s our first game against international opponents since March last year. We are really excited about it," he told a news conference on Thursday.
"It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us and it’s logical to say that we are going to have a full go. If, in a big game like this, you are too conservative or don’t have a brave mindset, you are probably in for a hiding. The guys are looking forward to it and are ready physically to go there. The collisions will be nice and aggressive."
The Lions have left out former Springbok centre Courtnall Skosan, who had been sidelined for several week after a COVID-19 contact. Van Rooyen has also sprung a surprise by picking 20-year-old Junior Springbok flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse over the more experienced Fred Zeilinga.
"The Lions look a mobile team, full of athletes who can move side to side and move you laterally. But they are a team that has just arrived this week and are playing at altitude and we see it as a possible opportunity for us," Van Rooyen added.
15-EW Viljoen, 14-Jamba Ulengo, 13-Manuel Rass, 12-Burger Odendaal, 11-Rabz Maxwane, 10-Jordan Hendrikse, 9-Dillon Smit, 8-Francke Horn (capt), 7-Vincent Tshituka, 6-Sbusiso Sangweni, 5-Reinhard Nothnagel, 4-Ruben Schoeman, 3-Ruan Dreyer, 2-PJ Botha, 1-Nathan McBeth.
Replacements: 16-Jaco Visagie, 17-Sti Sithole, 18-Carlu Sadie, 19-Ruhan Straeuli, 20-Emmanuel Tshituka, 21-Morne van den Berg, 22-Fred Zeilinga, Dan Kriel.
(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by xx)