Joubert to captain Lions

Lions coach Eugene Eloff has made five changes and a positional switch for his team’s must-win Absa Currie Cup match against the Valke.

The Lions find themselves propping up the log after three rounds. Admittedly the matches were against the three favourites for the title – the Sharks, Blue Bulls and Cheetahs.

Another loss against the Valke – who scored their first win of the campaign last weekend – will be disastrous for all involved.

The 59-5 defeat to the defending champions in Bloemfontein last weekend though has necessitated several changes.

The most notable is the omission of captain Wikus van Heerden, who has been sent to a farm outside of Johannesburg for some well-deserved rest.

In his absence the team will be captained by Ernst Joubert, while young Jean Deysel switches from lock to take Van Heerden’s place on the side of the scrum. Veteran Willem Stoltz comes into the second row.

Other changes up front see tighthead Gert Muller dropped for Bertus Smit and hooker James van der Walt replaced by Ethienne Reyneke. Grant Esterhuizen’s injury sees young Mark Harris get a start in the No 11 jersey.

A rather interesting move sees young Jody Rose replace his brother Earl at flyhalf as the Lions seek to find a solution to their flyhalf woes.

The Lions season is fast unravelling, but they face the Valke and Griquas in the next two weeks – both teams the Lions would normally easily beat.

The pressure is on and if they lose those two games it could be time for heads to roll again.

Lions team to play Valke:
15 Louis Ludik, 14 Wylie Human, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Wayne Julies, 11 Mark Harris, 10 Jody Rose, 9 Jano Vermaak; 8 Ernst Joubert (captain), 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Gerhard Mostert, 4 Willem Stoltz, 3 Bertus Smit, 2 Ethienne Reyneke, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Andre van Niekerk, 17 Gert Muller, 18 Schalk van der Merwe, 19 Bernard Roland, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Earl Rose, 22 Jaco van Schalkwyk.

By Andrew Hollely