The Lions have announced their 33-man touring squad ahead of their inaugural United Rugby Championship campaign.
There is a welcome return for lock Wilhelm van der Sluys, after fully recovering from a shoulder injury, while new loan recruits Pieter Jansen van Vuren, Eddie Fouche, Matt More, Morgan Naude and Ginter Smuts are also in the touring party.
Springboks Ross Cronje (ankle surgery) and Willem Alberts (hamstring rehabilitation) were not considered for selection, neither was talented playmaker Gianni Lombard (ankle injury). However, all three players form part of the Lions’ greater URC squad and will be available for selection once fully recovered.
The Johannesburg-based outfit will face Italian side Zebre on Heritage Day on Friday, 24 September in their opening fixture of the northern-hemisphere competition. Head coach Ivan van Rooyen believes the selected travelling group has what it takes to negotiate the unfamiliar conditions the men in red and white will encounter over their four-week tour.
Commenting on the selections, the coach said: “We’re pretty excited about this group.
“As a coaching unit we’ve been fortunate enough to have time to discuss and plan how we want to approach the URC. This was coupled with a few on-field sessions before settling on a final 33.
“We expect conditions to be challenging up north but, at the same time, are looking forward to competing and establishing ourselves as the competition progresses.”
Forwards (19) – PJ Botha, Morne Brandon, Ruan Dreyer, Jannie Du Plessis, Francke Horn, Pieter Jansen van Vuren, Jaco Kriel, Morgan Naude, Reinhard Nothnagel, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Carlu Sadie, Sibusiso Sangweni, Ruben Schoeman, Sti Sithole, Ruhan Straeuli, Emmanuel Tshituka, Vincent Tshituka, Wilhelm van der Sluys and Jaco Visagie.
Backs (14) – Eddie Fouche, Jordan Hendrikse, Sibahle Maxwane, Matt More, Burger Odendaal, Stean Pienaar, Manuel Rass, Divan Rossouw, Wandisile Simelane, Ginter Smuts, Jamba Ulengo, Morne van den Berg, EW Viljoen and Andre Warner.
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