Lombard at 10, Simelane starts for Lions

Gianni Lombard and Wandisile Simelane will both start for the Lions in their Super Rugby Unlocked clash with the Cheetahs in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Lions captain Elton Jantjies has been ruled out of the match due to a grade-one calf strain and is replaced in the starting lineup by Lombard. The 22-year-old made his Super Rugby debut for the Lions at flyhalf in 2019, but has recently played at fullback.

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Experienced centre Dan Kriel will take over the captaincy for Saturday’s match and is joined in midfield by Wandisile Simelane, who makes his first appearance since the lockdown. Simelane has been used as a travelling substitute in the Lions’ opening two fixtures against the Sharks and Stormers, but replaces Burger Odendaal in the starting lineup.

The rest of the backline remains unchanged from the one that narrowly lost to the Stormers at Newlands last weekend.

There is one change among the forwards as flank MJ Pelser will make his first start for the Lions, replacing Jaco Kriel, who has been left out of the match-day 23 entirely.

A much-changed bench features two potential Super Rugby debutants in hooker PJ Botha and wing Stean Pienaar. The only two players who keep their places on the bench from last weekend are lock Wilhelm van der Sluys and scrumhalf Ross Cronje.

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Lions – 15 EW Viljoen, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Dan Kriel, (c) 11 Sibahle Maxwane, 10 Gianni Lombard, 9 Morne van den Berg, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 MJ Pelser, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Sti Sithole.
Subs: 16 PJ Botha, 17 Nathan McBeth, 18 Jannie du Plessis, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Stean Pienaar, 23 Tiaan Swanepoel.

Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix