Fac­ing Chee­tahs’ best is go­ing to be a ‘great chal­lenge’ for Li­ons

Cape Times - - SPORT - Jac­ques van der Westhuyzen

JO­HAN­NES­BURG: Bring it on; we want to mea­sure our­selves against only the best? That was the mes­sage from Golden Li­ons coach Swys de Bruin yes­ter­day when quizzed about the make-up of the Free State Chee­tahs team for to­mor­row’s fi­nal round Cur­rie Cup match.

It is vir­tu­ally a win-or-bust game for both teams, with places in the last four up for grabs. The Chee­tahs have been boosted by the fact that the PRO14 is on a two-week break and the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons have been able to pick their strong­est team, in­clud­ing sev­eral Su­per Rugby stars and play­ers who un­til last week were play­ing in one of Europe’s most elite com­pe­ti­tions.

But De Bruin is un­fazed by the de­ci­sion of Chee­tahs head coach Rory Dun­can to pick the likes of Ray­mond Rhule, Rosko Spec­man, Nico Lee, Wil­liam Small-Smith, Oupa Mo­hoje, Paul Schoe­man and Torsten van Jaarsveld for the match.

“We want to mea­sure our­selves against the best... es­pe­cially this young team of ours,” said De Bruin yes­ter­day. “I’ve got no prob­lem with the Chee­tahs se­lec­tion... in fact we’d be dis­ap­pointed if we were to be run­ning out against a B or C team. This is go­ing to be a great chal­lenge for us.”

But it’s not only the Chee­tahs who’ve been able to strengthen their side; the Li­ons, too, have been bol­stered by the re­turn of sev­eral of their Spring­bok play­ers and a few men who missed last week’s match against West­ern Prov­ince be­cause of in­jury and ill­ness.

De Bruin has in­cluded backs An­dries Coet­zee, Court­nall Skosan and Ross Cronje in the run-on side and hooker Mal­colm Marx on the bench. Prop Ja­co­bie Adri­aanse and flank Cyle Brink are also back in the start­ing team after miss­ing out last Sun­day. Bok No 3 Ruan Dreyer though will sit out the match.

“Ruan’s got a bit of a rib prob­lem but it’s great hav­ing the other guys back,” said the Li­ons coach. “You could see in train­ing on Tues­day al­ready there was a sense of ur­gency among the play­ers.”

In one of the sig­nif­i­cant changes to the side that ran out last week­end, Jaco van der Walt re­places Ashlon Davids at No 10. “It’s a tac­ti­cal de­ci­sion,” ex­plained De Bruin.

Mean­while, the Li­ons con­firmed yes­ter­day that lock Franco Mostert, who is cur­rently play­ing for his club in Ja­pan, will re­main a Li­ons player un­til at least the end of Su­per Rugby next year.

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