Jacques van der Westhuyzen

By Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Head of Sport

Lions lock Willem Alberts to front Leinster … days shy of 40th birthday

There will also be plenty to cheer for No 8 Francke Horn, who'll run out for the 50th time for his team at this level of the game.

Former Springbok flank Willem Alberts is just days away from celebrating his 40th birthday, but before then he will turn out for the Lions as the Joburg team look to finish in the top eight on the United Rugby Championship log for a place in the quarter-finals.

The 43-cap Springbok’s 40th birthday is on May 11 but that will be the last thing on his mind when he runs out against top Irish side Leinster in a big URC match at Ellis Park on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 3pm).

Alberts, who also played for the Sharks and Stade Francais during his career, first played for the Lions in senior rugby in 2005. His Test caps were picked up between 2010 and 2016.

He will be joined in the second row by young Ruan Delport (21) in a match the Lions must win to have any chance of making it into the playoffs at the end of the regular season. After this weekend’s match the Joburg-based team will have just four games remaining before the quarter-finals take place.

Francke Horn’s 50th game

While Alberts’ milestone birthday is still a few weeks away, the one Lions player who’ll definitely have something to celebrate on Saturday is eighthman Francke Horn, who’ll play his 50th international game for the franchise this weekend.

Francke Horn
Francke Horn has become a Lions stalwart. Picture: Christiaan Kotze/Gallo Images

In other team news, prop Morgan Naude gets a rare start with Springbok Ruan Dreyer occupying the tighthead spot in a new-look front-row, while Asenathi Ntlabakanye returns from suspension to provide cover on the bench.

Elsewhere, Sibusiso Sangweni returns to the matchday-23 as cover for Hanru Sirgel who is recovering from concussion, while centre Henco van Wyk is also back in the mix after an injury layoff and takes a spot as one of the backline replacements, alongside Jordan Hendrikse and Nico Steyn.

Lions: Quan Horn, Richard Kriel, Erich Cronje, Marius Louw (capt), Edwill van der Merwe, Sanele Nohamba, Morne van den Berg, Francke Horn, Emmanuel Tshituka, JC Pretorius, Ruan Delport, Willem Alberts, Ruan Dreyer, PJ Botha, Morgan Naude. Bench: Jaco Visagie, JP Smith, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Reinhard Nothnagel, Sibusiso Sangweni, Nico Steyn, Jordan Hendrikse, Henco van Wyk