That Royal XV, the first opponents of the British and Irish Lions on their tour of South Africa, have no intention of being domestic cannon fodder.
Rugby 365 reports that Chaka Willemse, the coach of the Royal XV who play the British and Irish Lions at the Bafokeng Stadium on May 30, has promised that his team will be going all out to knock the tourists over.
“We’re not here just to provide opposition, we will give them all we’ve got and we’ll try and win,” Willemse told a media gathering at the launch of the team in Johannesburg on Monday.
This sentiment was echoed by the man who will lead them, Wilhelm Koch.
The former Western Province Sevens captain and one of 10 players with Super 14 experience, told the media gathering that his side had some excellent players to test the tourists.
It was obvious the team regarded the match as a huge honour – and their way of paving the way for the teams to play the Lions in later matches.
Willemse, a lock who captained the Pumas for years and would have played against the 1997 Lions but for a hand injured shortly before the match, said the Royal XV side will only assemble on May 25 – the day of the Lions’ arrival in South Africa.
The side was selected with input from all the coaches of the five unions that make up the region – the Leopards, Griquas, Pumas, Falcons and Griffons.
“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 it wouldn’t be necessary. We are confident we have enough players of the required quality,” Willemse said on Monday after selection of the side.
“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.”
The 10 players with Super 14 experience are Egon Seconds (Griquas), Bjorn Basson (Griquas), Hanno Coetzee, Deon van Rensburg (Leopards), Naas Olivier (Griquas), Sarel Pretorius (Griquas), RW Kember (Leopards), Wilhelm Koch (Leopards), Rynard Landman (Leopards), Bees Roux (Griquas).
Thirteen of the 27 players in the squad are from Vodacom Cup champions Griquas, with 10 from the Leopards and four from the Pumas.
The Falcons and Griffons have no representation in the squad.
The Royal XV squad:
Backs: 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).
Forwards: Jonathan Makoena (Griquas), RW Kember (Leopards), Devon Raubenheimer (Griquas), Wilhelm Koch (Leopards) (Captain), 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).Tweet