Ricky doubt for Lions

Lions coach Eugene Eloff has named an unchanged starting XV for the must win Absa Currie Cup clash against the Cheetahs on Friday night.

At this stage it includes scrumhalf Ricky Januarie, but he has been put on standby for the Springboks after news that Fourie du Preez is ill. “I understand it is just precautionary by the Boks and they let us know early of the possibility so we could put contingency plans in place,” Eloff told keo.co.za.

“I actually expect Ricky to be available and that would help us maintain our consistency. It is one of the main reasons we have managed to win the last few games.”

Apart from that possible disruption, Eloff has stuck with the players that have been responsible for the recent revival at Ellis Park. The Lions have now won three matches in-a-row and are aiming for a fourth.

A defeat against the defending champions is likely to put a major dent in their chances of making the semi-finals. At the moment they trail the Bulls and Sharks (both on 30 points) by nine points. They simply cannot afford to slip further behind on Friday night.

“All games are must win, but against a team that is also aiming for a semi-final spot it is extra important for us to get the victory,” Eloff said.

The Lions have looked the form team in the last three weeks with three wins, but that momentum was broken with a bye at the weekend. “I think the break has actually done us more good than bad. Nine games in-a-row is always tough so I think more than anything the rest has done the guys well mentally.”

The only changes are on the bench where veteran Marius Hurter replaces Lawrence Sephaka and scrumhalf Dave von Hoesslin comes in for the ill Nic Eyre. Von Hoesslin may have to start should Januarie be called away. A possible bench replacement has not been discussed yet.

Lions team to play the Cheetahs: 15 Earl Rose, 14 Wylie Human, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Doppies la Grange, 11 Louis Ludik, 10 Jaco van Schalkwyk, 9 Ricky Januarie; 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Wikus van Heerden, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Anton van Zyl, 4 Cobus Grobler, 3 Bertus Smit, 2 Ethienne Reynecke, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 James van der Walt, 17 Marius Hurter, 18 Franco van der Merwe, 19 Roland Bernard, 20 Dave von Hoesslin, 21 Grant Esterhuizen, 22 Mark Harris.

By Andrew Hollely