South African-born Connacht centre Shayne Bolton is hoping to be given a chance to weave his magic when the Irish side takes on the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Bolton, whose grandmother is from Dublin, arrived at Connacht at the beginning of the season with a reputation as one of the brightest young prospects in South African rugby
The 21-year old represented the University of Free State Shimlas in the Varsity Cup and was also impressive for his former province in the SA Rugby U21 Championship.
However, since moving to Ireland, Bolton has only made one start in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship for Connacht.
“It is my first time back in South Africa in about nine months,” Bolton told the Connacht website. “My parents and girlfriend were waiting for me at the airport when we arrived and at the place where we are staying, there’s a few restaurants nearby and I’ve been able to have dinner with them and catch up.”
Playing at altitude is always one of the key adjustments for travelling teams in South Africa and Bolton said he has been advising teammates on what to expect.
“I’m from Pretoria, which is just down the road from Johannesburg. I have played at Ellis Park a few times.
“I have been telling the guys about the altitude and hot weather over here on the way but at least it’s not as hot as it usually is.
“Usually in the warm-ups you feel way more tired when training or playing at altitude and your muscles feel more fatigued, but once you get your second breath you get on well.
“Hopefully there will be a big crowd, its usually very hot in the stadium and there wouldn’t really be a breeze blowing through it.”
The Lions have been in an excellent run of form, winning four of their past five games in the URC, including victories over Munster and Edinburgh.
“I think they’ve got a lot of X factor with a few of their players, and they aren’t afraid to play less experienced players, so you are bound to make mistakes when you have new guys coming in but as the season has gone on, they have been getting better as the players are getting more game time,” Bolton said.
“We have to manage the momentum of the game and see how our lungs are going and see how the pack is going.”
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