Lions and Bulls square up in ‘point­less’ clash

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - JAC­QUES VAN DER WESTHUYZEN

JUST why a pre-sea­son match be­tween two sec­ond string sides of the Lions and Bulls was ar­ranged for late Jan­uary is any­one’s guess.With three weeks to go be­fore the 2018 Su­per Rugby sea­son kicks off both Lions boss Swys de Bruin as well as Bulls coun­ter­part John Mitchell will have a good idea of what their first choice teams will look like.

In fact, Mitchell has al­ready named his squad for the com­pe­ti­tion, with De Bruin set to name his group next week, but af­ter help­ing the Lions to back- to- back fi­nals in the last two sea­sons, and been in charge for the Cur­rie Cup, he’ll know ex­actly who to put his trust in.

Mitchell won’t even be at El­lis Park this af­ter­noon when a Bulls team made up of play­ers who didn’t get his ap­proval for this year’s com­pe­ti­tion take on the Lions (kick­off 3pm); he’ll be in Polok­wane with the “cho­sen men” who’re in ac­tion against the Sharks.

That’s why one can only won­der why the Bulls are even part of to­day’s fix­ture.

For some in­di­vid­u­als it will per­haps be viewed as an op­por­tu­nity to prove Mitchell wrong and here one thinks of full­back-cum-cen­tre Ul­rich Bey­ers, cen­tre Dries Swanepoel, fly­half Tony Jan­tjies, loose-for­wards Boom Prinsloo and Shaun Aden­dorff and hooker Edgar Marut­lulle. But to be hon­est, these play­ers have lit­tle to play for as Mitchell has al­ready nailed his colours to the mast.

For a few Lions men, how­ever, the sce­nario is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. De Bruin needs a few wings to take into the Su­per Rugby com­pe­ti­tion be­cause of the un­avail­abil­ity of Ruan Com­brinck and Court­nall Skosan who’re both miss­ing due to in­jury so Ma­dosh Tambwe and Aphiwe Dyan­tyi have a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity to get ticks be­hind their names.

The match will also give the Lions boss a chance to see Howard Mnisi in ac­tion again af­ter the cen­tre sat out all of last sea­son with a knee in­jury, while Ashlon Davids and Marco Janse van Vuren get a chance to gel and form a strong com­bi­na­tion as the likely back-up to El­ton Jan­tjies and Ross Cronje.

With Akker van der Merwe now at the Sharks the Lions are also look­ing for more depth at hooker, to com­pete with Mal­colm Marx and Rob­bie Coet­zee for the No 2 jumper, and De Bruin has opted to try loose­head prop Corne Fourie in the po­si­tion.

Both coach and player will hope to­day’s mini ex­per­i­ment pays off.

De Bruin didn’t con­sider any of his first choice men for the match, among them a host of Spring­boks, who’ll go straight into the com­pe­ti­tion opener against the Sharks on Fe­bru­ary 17 with­out any pre- sea­son ac­tion be­hind them.

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