Jacques van der Westhuyzen

By Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Head of Sport

Lions get ‘massive boost’ as URC players join Currie Cup team

The Lions are way down the points table and need a good second round if they are to feature in the playoffs.

The Lions will hope the addition of a number of United Rugby Championship players to their Currie Cup team will pay dividends when they clash with the defending champions and pace-setters, the Pumas, in a round eight match at Ellis Park on Friday.

Having won just twice in seven outings, the Lions are desperate to move up the points table as the second round return fixtures get underway this weekend.

URC players

Boosting the Currie Cup side against Jimmy Stonehouse’s Pumas are Rhynardt Rijnsburger, Ruan Dreyer, Ruben Schoeman, Francke Horn, Morne van den Berg, Gianni Lombard, Rabz Maxwane, Manuel Rass and Andries Coetzee, all players who featured regularly for the URC team.

Hooker Jaco Visagie will lead the Lions in the match that kicks off at 5pm. Players not considered because of injury include Willem Alberts, Emmanuel Tshituka, Reinhard Nothnagel and Henco van Wyk, while Edwill van der Merwe, Sanele Nohamba, Marius Louw, PJ Botha, Asenathi Ntlabakanye and Quan Horn have been given an extended rest.

There is much excitement about former Blitzboks star JC Pretorius making his first start of the campaign, since switching from Sevens rugby to the XV-man game.

‘Energy and excitement’

Lock Darrien Landsberg, who will face off with his former Pumas mates, said the availability of the URC players was a big boost for the rest of the Currie Cup.

“There are quite a few URC guys who’ve come down to us and that’s a massive boost,” said Landsberg on Thursday.

“They’ve come in with a lot of energy and excitement … and you can now see there’s pressure on everyone, with players now out of their comfort zones, and that will hopefully bring out the best in everyone.”

Landsberg added it was now time for the Lions to make up for a poor first round, where they managed just two wins from their seven games.

“Round one obviously didn’t go according to plan, and we didn’t get the results we wanted,” said the lock.

“But we’ve got round two ahead of us and the gents are excited. Winning is now non-negotiable and we’re going to have to do whatever we can to get the results. We’ve just got to go for it and make every game count.”

In the other Currie Cup game on Friday, the Cheetahs host the Griffons at 7pm. On Saturday, the Sharks welcome Griquas (1.30m) and Western province host the Bulls (6.30pm).

Lions: Andries Coetzee, Prince Nkabinde, Manny Rass, Rynhardt Jonker, Rabz Maxwane, Gianni Lombard, Morne van den Berg, Francke Horn, Travis Gordon, JC Pretorius, Darrien-Lane Landsberg, Ruben Schoeman, Ruan Dreyer, Jaco Visagie (capt), Rhynhardt Rijnsburger. Bench: Morne Brandon, Kayden Kiewit, Ruan Smith, Raynard Roets, Ruhan Straeuli, Nico Steyn, Vaughen Isaacs, Stean Pienaar

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Currie Cup Lions rugby team Pumas Rugby Team