Seven players with Super 14 experience, including the Cheetahs’ new flyhalf Naas Olivier, have been named in the Royal XV, to face the British & Irish Lions in the opening match of their tour – at the Bafokeng Sports Palace in Phokeng (Rustenburg) on May 30.
The side has been selected from five provincial sides on the Highveld – the Leopards, Griquas, Falcons, Pumas and Griffons.
Vodacom Cup champions Griquas have been rewarded for their success on the domestic scene with 14 players in the initial squad of 27.
Griquas’ Man of the Match in their 28-19 win over the Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup Final at the weekend, along with fellow Griquas flyhalf Naas Olivier, beat off the challenge of the talented Leopards duo of Riaan Smit and Clayton Durand.
The Leopards have nine representatives and the Pumas have four players in the squad. Neither the Griffons nor the Falcons have any representation in the Royal XV.
Ironically Olivier, one of the top points scorers in the Vodacom Cup competition, missed the final after he was drafted into the Cheetahs Super 14 squad a couple of weeks ago.
Olivier is one of seven players with Super 14 experience that were selected. Others include his Griquas teammates Hanno Coetzee, Bjorn Basson, Sarel Pretorius and Bees Roux (who all played for the Cheetahs), along with the Leopards duo of Deon van Rensburg and Rynard Landman (who played for the Lions).
Three hookers and three scrumhalves have been named, with Sarel Pretorius and Jacques Coetzee the favourites to wear the No.9 jersey against the Lions.
It is a surprise that Leopards loosehead prop Gavin Williamson has been omitted in favour of teammate Pellow van der Westhuizen, Rayno Barnes from Griquas and Hannes Franklin from the Pumas.
Franklin is joined by his Puma teammates Jaco Bouwer – a former Leopard – as well as scrumhalf Coetzee and prop forward Dawie Steyn.
The side will be coached by Leopards coach Chaka Willemse and assisted by Dawie Theron (Griquas), Jimmy Stonehouse (Pumas) and Oersond Gorgonzola (Griffons).
The coach, Willemse, said the team will only assemble the week before the May 30 match
against the touring Lions.
Initially the team would have been known as the Highveld XV, but a formal announcement of the name change – no secret in South Africa or the United Kingdom and Ireland – will be made next week.
“We had the right to call on players from the Blue Bulls if needed to bolster the team in positions where we felt the side may have a problem, but found that it wouldn’t be necessary,” Willemse said.
“We are confident that we have enough players of the required quality,” he added.
“In selecting the side, we took into consideration the playing style of the previous Lions under coach Ian McGeechan and the type of players he had selected for this tour. We are confident that we have a competitive side to face the Lions.”
Royal XV squad: Russell Jeacocks (Leopards), Colin Lloyd (Leopards), Egon Seconds (Griquas), Bjorn Basson (Griquas), Deon van Rensburg (Leopards), Basil de Doncker (Leopards), Hanno Coetzee (Griquas), Riaan Viljoen (Griquas), Naas Olivier (Griquas), Michael Bondesio (Leopards), Jacques Coetzee (Pumas), Sarel Pretorius (Griquas), Jonathan Makoena (Griquas), RW Kember (Leopards), Devon Raubenheimer (Griquas), Wilhelm Koch (Leopards), Jaco Bouwer (Pumas), Rynard Landman (Leopards), Rudi Mathee (Leopards), Jacques Lombard (Griquas), Bees Roux (Griquas), Rayno Barnes (Griquas), Hannes Franklin (Pumas), Pellow van der Westhuizen (Leopards), Albertus Buckle (Griquas), Dawie Steyn (Pumas), Stef Roberts (Griquas).
Courtesy of Rugby 365Tweet