Lions take a gamble

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Lions, Original Content, Super Rugby on 15 Feb 2018 at 17:48
Tagged with : , , , , , , ,

Swys de Bruin has named a Super Rugby match 23 for the first time as Lions head coach and he’s certainly shown that he’s not one to shy away from bold calls.

While de Bruin’s starting team pretty much picks itself (although perhaps it is a little odd that Rohan Janse van Rensburg doesn’t stat) it’s the composition of the bench that will have pundits scratching their heads a little.

Boks Malcolm Marx and Ruan Dreyer start upfront, with the impressive Jacques van Rooyen completing the front row. Franco Mostert is also there and while he’s a key part of the front five, much will depend on just how much intensity he can bring this season having not had much of an off season for 24 months or so. Andries Ferreira is a workhorse in the number 4 jersey and completes a settled and dangerous tight unit.

Kwagga Smith, Cyle Brink and Warren Whiteley (the captain) comprise a pacy and skilful loose trio that’s perhaps a little shy of a tight bruiser.

At the back, the Lions are without first-choice wingers Courtnall Skosaan and Ruan Combrinck, but boast plenty of settled experience in Ross Cronje, Elton Jantjies Lionel Mapoe and Andries Coetzee. Harold Vorster is a strange pick ahead of Rohan Janse van Rensburg, with Sylvian Mauhza and young Aphiwe Dyantyi set to make their mark on the wing.

De Bruin has no recognised cover for either scrumhalf or flyhalf on the bench and has instead picked two centres in van Rensburg and Howard Mnisi. An extra loose forward in the form of Hacjivah Dayimani occupies the number 21 jersey, with a tricky customer in Marnus Schoeman also covering loose forward. The Sharks will do well to take note and perhaps single out Cronje and Jantjies for some early attention, just to see what the Lions do should one or both go down.

Lions – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (capt), 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Subs: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Hacjivah Dayimani, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg.


  • Trokkie hasn’t spent much time with the squad and played a full schedule for Sale, which might be the reason for him being on the bench. There’s also talk of him covering wing.

    Dayimani is an interesting choice. With his size and pace Swys might just bring him on on the wing, or as loosie playing in the tramlines on attack.

    Flyhalf cover isn’t a major issue as Andries Coetzee has covered there often enough. The lack of scrumhalf cover is worrying though

  • Comment 1, posted at 15.02.18 18:19:27 by Baylion Reply
  • @Baylion (Comment 1) : What are the realistic options if Ross goes down? Coetzee there or maybe him at 10 and Elton at 9? He must have a backup plan, surely, it’s just hard to guess what it is.

  • Comment 2, posted at 15.02.18 18:24:05 by Quintin Reply
  • @Quintin (Comment 2) : Coetzee is the regular cover at breakdown if the 9 got tied up. Kwagga is another option from 7s.

    In open play it’s always easy to train players to fulfill various roles occasionally, such as a 12 playing first receiver. Totally different thing if they have to do it for 20 or 30 minutes.

    Obviously Swys knows his players and will have a plan but the idea seems to be to play Elton and Ross for 80 minutes, and hope for the best

  • Comment 3, posted at 15.02.18 18:34:54 by Baylion Reply
  • @Baylion (Comment 3) : Well I’ll tell you one thing he’s got some balls making that call seeing that injuries are quite abundant in a contact sport. Hope all stays well, I want to see a good contest.

  • Comment 4, posted at 15.02.18 19:04:22 by Quintin Reply
  • @Quintin (Comment 4) : Elton is physically unbreakable 😆

    It seems, from another site, Andries Coetzee is Ross’s backup. He played scrummie at Craven Week and, as I said, he covers there often during games.

  • Comment 5, posted at 15.02.18 19:24:34 by Baylion Reply
  • Rob, isn’t it a little unsporting to wish injury upon opposition players?

  • Comment 6, posted at 15.02.18 19:46:14 by war1 Reply
  • @Baylion (Comment 5) : Ok so maybe he won’t do too bad for the 15/20 odd minutes if he’s called upon. Brave call from him, I actually like it.

    Man Elton, I have no words 😆 You guys have any pedigree or promising backup in the squad at 10 since Jaco left?

    Saw on the other post Brink is 114kg? That’s pretty beefy. Think Vermeulen is 112kg and PvdW is 109kg according to Sharks website.

  • Comment 7, posted at 15.02.18 19:55:56 by Quintin Reply

  • @war1 (Comment 6) : Rob never wished injury upon anyone? Just mentioned that the Sharks take note of it.

  • Comment 8, posted at 15.02.18 19:56:48 by Quintin Reply

  • @Quintin (Comment 7) : Ja, Brink is given as 99kg on the Lions web site but “a guy with contacts” tells me he’s down from 120 kg to 114kg.

    We have some rookie backups for Elton, who did very well in the CC. I like Ashlon Davids and Shaun Reynolds is more a traditional Saffer flyhalf – big with a good boot

    At scrummie the backups are also rookies (I think Dillon Smit is injured) – Marco Jansen van Vuren and Muis Meyer.

    Seems Swys decided that he’s rather use experienced part time backups for this game and gamble on his first choices playing 80 minutes

  • Comment 9, posted at 15.02.18 20:01:47 by Baylion Reply

  • @Baylion (Comment 9) : So no real depth at 10 or 9 over there. Hopefully one of the youngsters can make the step up for you guys.

  • Comment 10, posted at 15.02.18 20:27:22 by Quintin Reply

  • @Baylion (Comment 9) : @Quintin (Comment 10) : Ja don’t know the backup players but must say don’t think it will their confidence if the coach prefers to use “part time” players to cover their positions. Also strange that with no real cover for Ross they did not get Paige for Super rugby

  • Comment 11, posted at 15.02.18 23:44:26 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
  • @Quintin (Comment 7) : Too my knowledge Brink is 100kg max. And I honestly think for all the heart they show, it is a very light loose forward combo. Part of the success Whiteley and Kriel enjoyed, was due to the grunt provided by Ackermann/Tecklenburg. Kyle Brink is a good player, but he isn’t a bruiser at 7.

  • Comment 12, posted at 16.02.18 07:14:10 by KingCheetah Reply

  • @Baylion (Comment 9) : Really, I am astounded by that. He certainly is strong, but 114kg? I will look and see.

  • Comment 13, posted at 16.02.18 07:15:21 by KingCheetah Reply

  • @KingCheetah (Comment 13) : That’s what Provincefan on R365 says

  • Comment 14, posted at 16.02.18 07:40:09 by Baylion Reply

  • @KingCheetah (Comment 12) : Yes although they are very mobile with Kwagga and WW but like we discussed yesterday I think our balance overall is a bit better especially if you include Dan from the bench in the last 20/30 minutes.

    So I see most of the local main stream media are talking the Sharks up as favorites for the SA conference? We usually do better as underdogs but lets hope that we can live up to all the hype created by the media.

  • Comment 15, posted at 16.02.18 07:56:47 by Quintin Reply

  • @Baylion (Comment 14) : He is usually pretty spot on. Will watch with interest. Definitely a match worth a drive to the pub to watch.

  • Comment 16, posted at 16.02.18 08:12:00 by KingCheetah Reply

  • Very good tight five, very mobile loosies, pretty decent backline with a flyhalf who really excels at this level, a very creative inside centre combined with very good 13

    Weaknesses: Workman like nine who is getting a bit long in the tooth with no backup on the bench, no flyhalf backup and fairly inexperienced wings

  • Comment 17, posted at 16.02.18 08:30:31 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @Baylion (Comment 1) : Some would even suggest Coetzee is better at 10 than 15….im half and half on that opinion. Geez i hope Cronje doesnt go down injured early…as much as that would benefit the Sharks it could also ruin the game as a spectacle

  • Comment 18, posted at 16.02.18 08:46:32 by SheldonK Reply

  • @Quintin (Comment 15) : ok, missed that as I am only seeing a Lions win in the media and a mention of a dark horse status. Bookies have the same odds of a Sharks win as a Jaguares win??? This side feels much more balanced than the two from last year that could / should have won at least two of the three games vs Lions, so I am quietly confident that an upset is likely.

    I am going to take these odds and hopefully have a double smile tomorrow evening

  • Comment 19, posted at 16.02.18 08:53:54 by Kabouter Reply

  • @Kabouter (Comment 19) : Yeah I’m not referring to Saturdays match, talking about the overall best team in SA conference over the whole competition:

    Good luck! 🙂

  • Comment 20, posted at 16.02.18 10:48:52 by Quintin Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 18) : Yes totally agree, I would like to get a true measure of were these 2 teams stand as they are most likely SA’s best shot at winning the comp or at least making the finals. Wouldn’t want a yellow/red card spoiling it either.

  • Comment 21, posted at 16.02.18 10:52:48 by Quintin Reply

  • @Quintin (Comment 21) : I have a bit of a strange take on things. Id like to see SA teams do well in the comp especially the Sharks. I do think the NZ sides are still by far the favourites to win it. Id also not mind if the sa teams fall out of it at the quarterfinal stage as it will them give Rassie more time to prep the Boks for the massive clashes vs England. Make no mistake very poor performances vs England will deflate rugby in the country for the remainder of the year.

  • Comment 22, posted at 16.02.18 11:21:54 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 22) : From what we’ve seen in the past, a good SR season for the majority of SA’s teams usually translate in the Springboks playing good by having in form, quality players to choose from that can compete at the highest level. The past couple of years we only had one franchise doing any good, the rest were average or bad and you could clearly see that translate into the international setup.

  • Comment 23, posted at 16.02.18 11:29:58 by Quintin Reply

  • @Quintin (Comment 23) : No you do make a good point. As i said i want teams to do well just maybe not make the semi/final as that will take away from Bok prep time. We are fairly used to sub standard teams touring here in June which will not be the case with England. They will be a well prepped, stable and in form team probably coming off a 6 Nations win. 3-0 to England will not be good for Sa rugby.

  • Comment 24, posted at 16.02.18 11:37:40 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 24) : Yes I totally agree, we absolutely have to win that series if our morale is to recover with any significance. A loss would be hard to swallow but then again, England is a really good team at the moment, right up there with NZ and Ireland in the top 3 although their form looks to be declining somewhat if you have a look at the game against Wales. None the less, it’s going to be one of the biggest challenges the Boks have faced these last couple of years and if they can get through it with a win it would be a huge statement.

  • Comment 25, posted at 16.02.18 11:46:22 by Quintin Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 24) : Also, there will at least be some training camps before that series starts wouldn’t there? He’s got a big job on his hands but I think he can make it work, even if he just gets the selections right we’re already 50% better than 2016/17

  • Comment 26, posted at 16.02.18 11:55:58 by Quintin Reply

  • @Quintin (Comment 26) : Im not sure about training camps, doesnt seem to be much tme for that. At best it would be maybe half the team at a time when guys have a bye.
    I dont see the Boks winning the series but if its closely contested and we can win a game that would be good.

  • Comment 27, posted at 16.02.18 12:16:48 by SheldonK Reply

  • Its a gambit of note, sure its edgy and innovative, but it could backfire, really risky not having a specialist back-up – very intriguing to go for versatility over specialists in two crucial positions. Irrespective of players that can play there, it’s a big gamble. We shall see… Shaaaaaarks!

  • Comment 28, posted at 16.02.18 14:27:22 by Richard Reply

  • To be honest I’m more interested to see how players on both sides integrate or re-integrate in this game. Also Keen to see if some new strategies gamestyles emerge with swys and Dick’s new roles.

  • Comment 29, posted at 16.02.18 18:30:45 by coolfusion Reply

  • Match programme

    Free tickets for Sharks season ticket holders

  • Comment 30, posted at 17.02.18 09:59:42 by Baylion Reply

  • @Baylion (Comment 30) : nifty! Seems lessons are being learned all over

  • Comment 31, posted at 17.02.18 10:17:37 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 31) : Ja, I see the Lions also brought out an online magazine 🙂

  • Comment 32, posted at 17.02.18 10:43:11 by Baylion Reply


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