The Lions are set to finally unleash their United Rugby Championship (URC) stars on the Currie Cup over the next two game weeks, starting with the Cheetahs at Ellis Park on Friday.
It has been a chastening Currie Cup campaign for the Lions so far, after they decided in January to split their squads, with a largely young and inexperienced squad full of U20 players battling it out in the country’s premier local competition.
It has thus been a terrible campaign, with them losing every match so far, many by large margins with them sitting with a negative 220 points difference.
One or two players from the URC squad has been used sporadically for game time but only in the Lions’ most recent match, a last gasp 23-17 loss against the Griquas, did they provide a decent number of URC players to the side.
In that game their whole front row, nine and 15 were all URC regulars, and it showed as they dominated the match for large parts and only lost when the Griquas scored a try on the fulltime hooter.
With the Lions set to continue that trend in the coming matches against the Cheetahs and Bulls over the next two weekends to keep their URC players fresh and ready for their final game against the Dragons, they will be a lot more competitive in the Currie Cup.
“We have two Currie Cup games (before the Dragons), so in between playing time and numbers of players available per position we will make a good calculated decision about those two games,” explained Lions URC coach Ivan van Rooyen.
“It will be similar to our last few Currie Cup games. I think we have started to use the Currie Cup to get in some game time to some of the guys who had been a little short on it. That will continue over the next two weeks.”
The Lions however face a stiff challenge against the in-form Cheetahs, which should make for an interesting match if they field enough URC players.
The Cheetahs have been in imperious form so far, winning all seven of their games and they will be targeting another win to move back to the top of the table, ahead of the Bulls who play their match against the Griquas on Saturday.