Venter out, Sirgel starts for hungry Lions

Hanru Sirgel has been named to make his starting debut for the Lions who will be prowling for their first win of the season when they take on Benetton in Treviso on Sunday.

The standout Griquas loose forward, Sirgel made his Vodacom United Rugby Championship bow off the bench last week in a 17-16 reverse against Edinburgh.

The agony of a narrow defeat for the Lions, which followed a season-opening 35-33 reverse against the Stormers, was compounded by a toe injury to blindside slugger Ruan Venter, a development that forced coach Ivan van Rooyen into a reshuffle for Sunday’s trip to Italy where Emmanuel Tshituka moves to No 7 and Sirgel fills the openside vacancy.

Loosehead prop Morgan Naude also made a telling impact off the wood in the Scottish capital and he has been rewarded with a start, bumping Corne Fourie to a bench that has been boosted by the inclusion of former Blitzboks breakaway JC Pretorius.

Reflecting on the Edinburgh match, defence coach Jaque Fourie bemoaned missed opportunities but took heart from a performance that proved the Lions are not toothless on the road.

“It was all about small margins,” said Fourie. “We had our chances and the ones they had they capitalised. There are minor things we can fix but at the same time, we take quite a bit of positives out of that as you don’t just go to Edinburgh and beat them there.”

In round 3, the Lions square up against a Benetton outfit that held Munster, the reigning champions, to a 13-13 stalemate.

“We had a look at Benetton against Munster,” added Fourie. “They are team that has evolved their playing style in that they don’t play with the ball too much, instead they play in the right areas of the field.

“Conditions wise, we’ll be playing on a normal pitch which means it could be slippery and wet. It’s going to be a physical, arm-wrestle type of game for 80 minutes and the team that uses their chances will come out on top.”

LIONS – 15 Quan Horn, 14 Richard Kriel, 13 Henco van Wyk, 12 Marius Louw (c), 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Jordan Hendrikse, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Emmanuel Tshituka, 6 Hanru Sirgel, 5 Darrien-Lane Landsberg, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 PJ Botha, 1 Morgan Naude
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 19 Willem Alberts, 20 JC Pretorius, 21 Morne van den Berg, 22 Rynardt Jonker, 23 Andries Coetzee

Photo: Darren Stewart/Gallo Images

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