Asenathi Ntlabakanye will captain the Lions in their first Currie Cup encounter of the season when they take on Western Province in Cape Town on Saturday.
The 140kg tighthead prop will lead an exciting team which boasts 10 Junior Boks in the matchday 23. Reacting to being handed the captain’s armband, Ntlabakanye said Saturday will be a huge occasion for him.
“It’s a massive honour and privilege for me to be called upon to lead this group,” said the 22-year-old.
“To be captain at a franchise that I’ve played for since I was Under-16 is a huge thing for me. I’m also lucky enough to have strong leaders around me who I can lean on during the game.”
Ntlabakanye, who also boasts Vodacom United Rugby Championship experience, believes Saturday’s clash will be one his side will be up for.
“The focus this week has been about what we can bring to the table as a squad,” he explained.
“Western Province away has never been an easy fixture. We know they have a strong set piece and can be dangerous in open play but we’ll be ready for that.”
Commenting on his selections for the match, coach Mziwakhe Nkosi said: “I’m quite excited for this group of young men. It’s an opportunity for them to express themselves against the best the Currie Cup has to offer.
“Most of them have tasted success in last year’s Under-20 domestic competition, so as a management group we back them to showcase their talent,” Nkosi concluded.
Lions – 15 Quan Horn, 14 Boldwin Hansen, 13 James Mollentze, 12 Aidynn Cupido, 11 Zeilinga Strydom, 10 Vaughen Isaacs, 9 Jurich Claasens, 8 Emmanuel Tshituka, 7 Jarod Cairns, 6 Mark Snyman, 5 Simon Dionisio, 4 PJ Steenkamp, 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye (c), 2 Dameon Venter, 1 Banele Mthenjane.
Subs: 16 Darnell Osuagwu, 17 Heiko Pohlmann, 18 Sibusiso Shongwe, 19 Ruan Venter, 20 Lunga Ncube, 21 MJ Pelser, 22 Nico Steyn, 23 Tyler Bocks.