Asenathi Ntlabakanye returns from Vodacom United Rugby Championship duty to lead the Lions against the Pumas for the return leg of their Currie Cup encounter on Wednesday.
Ntlabakanye will lead a pack which features powerhouse lock PJ Steenkamp and former Junior Springbok Sasko Ndlovu. Ex-Baby Boks Tyler Bocks and James Mollentze could appear off the bench for the Lions in Nelspruit, along with the fit-again Ngia Selengbe.
“We have a second bite at the cherry against the Pumas,” said coach Mziwakhe Nkosi, who admits that his team’s 50-9 hiding by the men from Mbombela in round two of the competition posed a bit of a challenge.
“The biggest message to our guys in our preparations is that we need to match them physically from a set-piece point of view as well as on go-forward ball.
“We’re quite excited about the team we’ve selected. If you look at the makeup of the side, it’s guys who’ve put up their hands and are now being duly rewarded. The key thing now is to get a bit of synergy and play as a team.
“It’s been a challenging season for us from a Currie Cup perspective. Our depth has been tested week in and week out but, despite that, it’s afforded opportunities for some of our players from the Varsity Cup to put their hands up and stake their claim in senior rugby.”
Lions – 15 Vaughen Isaacs, 14 Boldwin Hansen, 13 James Mollentze, 12 Tyler Bocks, 11 Zeilinga Strydom, 10 Luke Rossouw, 9 Jurich Claasens, 8 Jarod Cairns, 7 Lindo Ncusane, 6 Sasko Ndlovu, 5 Lunga Ncube/Cal Smid, 4 PJ Steenkamp, 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye (c), 2 Jacque-Lois du Toit, 1 Kayden Kiewit.
Subs: 16 Dameon Venter, 17 Banele Mthenjane, 18 Chergin Fillies, 19 Connor van Buuren, 20 Cal Smid/MJ Pelser, 21 Ginter Smuts, 22 James Tedder, 23 Ngia Selengbe.