Lions midfield pair of Simelane and Odendaal to keep Bulls backline in check, Newsline

JOHANNESBURG – Wandisile Simelane and Burger Odendaal …

That is the centre-pairing that Emirates Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen has placed his faith in to tackle the Blue Bulls backline on Saturday (kick off 7pm) in their SuperRugby Unlocked clash at Emirates Airline Park.

The selection sees Dan Kriel relegated to the bench in the only change to the starting XV this weekend, with the rest of the team taking on the familiar shape that emphatically defeated the Griquas last week. The hat-trick heroics of Courtnall Skosan against the Kimberley-based side, sees the Springbok wing retain his starting berth, while Gianni Lombard – who also had a solid game against the Griquas – will once again patrol at full-back to connect with a tasty and exciting backline that scored six of the nine tries last week Friday.

The team will once again be led by ever-green captain Elton Jantjies, who will continue his burgeoning partnership with the impressive Morne van der Berg at scrumhalf.

Up-front, the Lions coach has left his side untouched and will rely on the big men and explosive loosies that completely dominated the Griquas, and will no doubt be hoping for a similar performance against a Bulls side that takes as much pride as they do in the set-pieces and tight exchanges.

It seems that there are still a handful of players not available for selection due to being in self-isolation, including Jaco Kriel, who has withdrawn from the side due to personal reasons.

The Lions starting XV:

Gianni Lombard; Stean Pienaar, Wandisile Simelane, Burger Odendaal, Courtnall Skosan; Elton Jantjies (captain), Morné van den Berg; Len Massyn, Vincent Tshituka, MJ Pelser, Marvin Orie, Ruben Schoeman, Carlu Sadie, Jaco Visagie, Sti Sithole.

Replacements:

PJ Botha, Nathan McBeth, Ruan Dreyer, Reinhard Nothnagel, Marnus Schoeman, Ross Cronjé, Dan Kriel, Tiaan Swanepoel

@FreemanZAR