Dick Muir has named his team to take on the Stormers this weekend and to say that the new Lions boss has made some surprising selection would be somewhat of an understatement.
Crowd favourite Earl Rose has been named at fullback and joins a back three that looks defensively suspect to say the least. Stormers and Bok discard Tondie Chavanga has always looked good running in a straight line, but has been known to struggle without the ball, while 19-year-old Wandile Mjekevu is a completely unknown entity. Muir has pulled a few rabbits out of hats before, though and you’d have to back him to be able to spot a good youngster.
Emerging Bok Deon van Rensburg has been preferred to Alwyn Hollenbach at 13, while Doppies le Grange is another somewhat surprising pick at 12. Walter Venter would be, in the eyes of most pundits, a better selection, with le Grange’s hands known to be a little suspect at times. Carlos Spencer will, of course, be at flyhalf with former Bull and Cheetah JP Joubert standing in for the injured Janno Vermaak at 9.
New recruit Jonathan Mokuena starts at number 8, together with a familiar flank pairing in Franco van der Merwe and captain Baywatch Grobbelaar. Willem Stoltz, the grizzled veteran, will be in the second row together with another former Griqua in Jacques Lombaard. Ross Geldenhuys is back in favour at tighthead prop, while Heinke van der Merwe selects himself at loosehead. There’s another surprise at hooker, where Pumas captain Hannes Franklin will start.
The bench is full of unknowns – among them Sharks XV loose forward Charles Emslie, who will be the hooker reserve, and Pumas scrumhalf Jacques Coetzee.
15 Earl Rose, 14 Tonderai Chavhanga, 13 Deon van Rensburg, 12 Doppies la Grange, 11 Wandile Mjekevu, 10 Carlos Spencer, 9 JP Joubert, 8 Jonathan Mokuena, 7 Franco van der Merwe, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar (capt), 5 Willem Stoltz, 4 Jacques Lombaard, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Hannes Franklin, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Reserves: 16 Charles Emslie, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Todd Clever, 19 Derrick Minnie, 20 Jacques Coetzee, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Michael Killian.