Whiteley returns for Lions, Lombard get start in No 10 jumper
Fit-again Warren Whiteley has been rushed straight back into the Lions team for Friday’s round 10 Super Rugby match against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
Whiteley will take over the No 8 jersey and the captaincy from Malcolm Marx in one of several changes to the side that lost to the Brumbies last weekend. Whiteley returns after spending the last eight weeks on the sidelines following his picking up a chest muscle injury in round two.
The other big calls made by coach Swys de Bruin are at flyhalf and hooker. Young Gianni Lombard gets a first start at No 10 in place of Elton Jantjies, while Robbie Coetzee will wear the No 2 on his back in place of Marx. Both Jantjies and Marx will sit on the bench in what are considered to be rotational switches. Both men have started every game for the Lions this season.
Experienced scrumhalf Ross Cronje is also back in the run-on side, while Sylvian Mahuza, who played off the bench last weekend, takes over the fullback berth from Andries Coetzee, who’ll also fill a spot among the replacements.
In the back-row Whiteley will resume his partnership with Cyle Brink and a fit-again Kwagga Smith, who’ll play his first match since round five, while Marvin Orie will have a new second row partner this week in Stephan Lewies.
Besides Coetzee getting a turn in the middle of the front row, De Bruin has also shaken things up on either side of him, bringing in Carlu Sadie and Sti Sithole, both of whom played off the bench in Canberra.
The Lions go into the game with a 50% win record, having lost four times in eight outings.
The Lions team is:
Sylvian Mahuza, Courtnall Skosan, Lionel Mapoe, Franco Naude, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Gianni Lombard, Ross Cronje, Warren Whiteley (capt), Cyle Brink, Kwagga Smith, Marvin Orie, Stephan Lewies, Carlu Sadie, Robbie Coetzee, Sti Sithole.
Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Frans van Wyk, Johannes Jonker, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Marnus Schoeman, Nic Groom, Elton Jantjies, Andries Coetzee@jacq_west