Jacques van der Westhuyzen

By Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Head of Sport


Lions boss picks new-look team for Challenge Cup tie against Perpignan

The URC breaks for the next two weekends, with the Lions also up against Newcastle at home next Saturday.


Lions boss Ivan van Rooyen has picked a completely new-look squad for the team’s first match of this year’s European Challenge Cup competition against French side Perpignan this coming Sunday.

Not one of the starting players who featured in last weekend’s United Rugby Championship win against the Dragons, or in the victory against Zebre the week before, are in the squad that leaves Joburg on Wednesday.

Fans of the Lions will not be too familiar with a number of the names in the tour party, among them backs Johan Mulder, Nico Steyn and forwards Izan Esterhuizen, Heiko Pohlmann, and Conrad van Vuuren.

Experience

There are, however, also a handful of players who’ve featured quite regularly for the URC side in the last two years, among them Jordan Hendrikse, Gianni Lombard, Rabz Maxwane, Stean Pienaar, Morgan Naude, Sibusiso Sangweni and Jaco Visagie.

Former Springbok fullback Andries Coetzee is also in the squad as well as former Blitzboks star JC Pretorius, who is still trying to fully adapt to XV-man rugby.

In total, 26 players will travel to France.

‘Confidence in using squad’

“Rotation was always part of the plan for this trip to France,’ said Van Rooyen.

“We have an opportunity to tap into our full squad over the next two weeks of Challenge Cup action.

“To get the performance we want and to potentially win both games we will rely on the players at our disposal as we have huge confidence in using the broader squad. We’ve prepared and trained accordingly for the last two to three weeks so we’ll be ready to go.”

Following Sunday’s match against Perpignan, the Lions will face the Newcastle Falcons from England at Ellis Park next Saturday.

In January the Lions also face Montpellier away and Ospreys at home in the Challenge Cup.

Lions squad:

Backs: Andries Coetzee, Erich Cronje, Zander du Plessis, Boldwin Hansen, Jordan Hendrikse, Rynhardt Jonker, Gianni Lombard, Rabz Maxwane, Johan Mulder, Stean Pienaar, Nico Steyn

Forwards: Morne Brandon, Izan Esterhuizen, Corne Fourie, Travis Gordon, Morgan Naude, Etienne Oosthuizen, Heiko Pohlmann, JC Pretorius, Raynard Roets, Sibusiso Sangweni, Hanru Sirgel, Ruan Smith, Ruhan Straeuli, Conrad van Vuuren, Jaco Visagie

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