Lions coach Cash van Rooyen believes they ticked two more crucial boxes in the loosehead prop and No 5 lock positions in last week’s Preparation Series thriller against the Sharks at Ellis Park.
After the recent shock departures of prop Dylan Smith to Stade Francais and lock Marvin Orie to the Stormers, prop Ruan Dreyer and lock Wilhelm van der Sluys managed to pass the test in the warm-up clash.
Dreyer produced a solid performance against the Sharks in the absence of another star, Sti Sithole, who will return to full training this week after picking up a hamstring injury two weeks ago.
Dreyer, however, could face an even bigger test in Cape Town this weekend, with the Stormers likely to recall their two star Springbok props Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe.
Dreyer was moved over to tighthead under previous Lions coach Johan Ackermann and it was at No 3 where he became a Springbok a few seasons ago.
“Ruan is comfortable on both sides and we fortunately have a couple of tightheads,” said Van Rooyen.
At No 3 the Lions have depth like Jannie du Plessis and Carlu Sadie, and Dreyer could be tried on both sides, with former Baby Bok Nathan McBeth backing him up in the No 1 jersey.
“We chucked Ruan in there at loosehead last weekend to have a look and I think he can be proud of his performance,” Van Rooyen said.
At lock, former Western Province player Van der Sluys showed he could be a worthy replacement for Orie – who is expected to make his debut for the Stormers this weekend – but he faces tight competition from Reinhard Nothnagel who captained the Lions in their first two matches.
“I think Wilhelm went really well against the Sharks last weekend,” said Van Rooyen.
“He has a lot of experience and also experience of playing on Europe.
“He brings something different for us, in terms of defence and his wide experience there.”