Jake White hasn’t revealed all that much regarding his thinking for next Friday’s game against the Lions in Johannesburg, but has dropped some strong hints that he’ll want to give his best available combination a good run, without necessarily discarding the young players on whom he knows he will need to call at some point during the season.
Reading between the lines, it probably means that most of the same players that featured at Allianz Park will get a run, although those few “big guns” that were forced to sit out due to niggles and other commitments will surely also come back into the fold. As the game will not be quite as strictly “official” as the Saracens fixture was, it’s hoped that White will be able to use more than just 23 players and perhaps give some completely new combinations a run in the second half.
The tight five is unlikely to differ from last weekend’s combination, with fit-again Anton Bresler possibly in line for a second-half cameo at best, since White is unlikely to pick him above Etienne Oosthuizen at this stage. Marcell Coetzee and Ryan Kankowski (who arrives back in Durban on Monday) will probably bolster the starting back row and with Willem Alberts, Jean Deysel and Jacques Botes also very much in the picture, it remains to be seen whether White will be able to find room for Keegan Daniel and Tera Mtembu in the squad he takes up to Johannesburg.
One man who we know will not be there is reserve hooker Kyle Cooper, since he’ll be on honeymoon. Monde Hadebe was a late addition to the London tour squad, but didn’t get onto the park, so will enjoy the opportunity of a hit out against the Lions. He’s a player who appears to have bulked up a fair bit during the last year or so, so it will be interesting to see what he can bring to the party.
Pat Lambie and Frans Steyn should both be in action too, with Charl McLeod presumably set to start as well. Reuniting his first-choice attacking axis ahead of the Bulls game will, I’m sure, be a priority for White and the chances that their understudies will get much time on the park against the Lions will probably depend on how quickly those key men gel. Paul Jordaan and Tyler Fisher will probably reprise their roles at 13 and 15 respectively, while it remains to be seen what White’s thinking is at wing, where Lwazi Mvovo’s concussion may keep him out of action. S’bura Sithole is the man one fancies would most likely come into the equation.
Again, much depends on how big the bench is for this clash, but one fancies that Dale Chadwick, Hadebe, Bresler, Lourens Adriaanse, Cobus Reinach and Andre Esterhuizen, at least, can be sure of their places on it. Trying to shoehorn the supporting “cast of thousands” into the few remaining places will be a tough ask indeed.Tweet