Lions ready to roar

Lions captain Wikus van Heerden is excited by a host of newcomers to the Lions team for the opening Currie Cup match on Friday night.

The Lions face a tricky first match against the Sharks in Durban, but with new coach Eugene Eloff and some new exciting young players, the Lions are hoping to give Johannesburg rugby fans something to shout about.

Players making their Currie Cup debuts include fullback Louis Ludik, scrumhalf Rory Kockott and tighthead prop Brian Mujati.

Following a disastrous Super 14 campaign by the Cats, coach Frans Ludeke was axed and his place was taken by Loffie. On Tuesday the new coach named his first official Lions line-up.

It includes Earl Rose at flyhalf. “Having Earl at no 10 is very exciting,” captain Wikus van Heerden told, “and if he gets good ball on the front foot he can be quite dangerous.”

“It is up to the forwards to produce that good ball and we have a good mixture of youth and experience in the pack. The lock pair (Willem Stoltz and Cobus Grobler) have played Super 14 and will help add grunt to our effort.”

The front-row too looks good with veterans James van der Walt and Pietman van Niekerk having plenty of experience. And alongside them young Brian Mujati gets his first start at this level.

“Brian has come through the Vodacom Cup side. All I know is he is really strong,” said van Heerden.

The match at Absa Stadium in Durban kicks-off at 7.10pm on Friday.

Lions team v Sharks:

15 Louis Ludik, 14 Wylie Human, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Doppies la Grange, 11 Jorrie Muller, 10 Earl Rose, 9 Rory Kockott; 8 Pietie Ferreira 7 Russell Winter, 6 Wikus van Heerden (captain), 5 Willem Stoltz, 4 Cobus Grobler, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 James van der Walt, 1 Pietman van Niekerk.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Gerhard Mostert, 19 Roland Bernard, 20 Dave von Hoesslin, 21 Jody Rose, 22 Thabang Molefe.

By Andrew Hollely