The Star Late Edition

Jordan brings something new

- MORGAN BOLTON morgan.bolton@inl.co.za

THE Lions’ depth at flyhalf will be under severe scrutiny this weekend when they face the Stormers in the third round of the Rainbow Cup.

Jordan Hendrikse – 19 years old and recently returned from a Baby Bok alignment camp – has been handed the coveted No 10 jumper for tomorrow’s all-important clash at Emirates Airline Park (kick-off 2pm).

His selection by coach Ivan van Rooyen is not all to do with form, but also one of necessity as veteran Fred Zeilinga battles a slight injury.

Said Van Rooyen of the selection, yesterday: “Fred is struggling with a slight groin, which is a bit of a niggle. That is not the reason why we picked Jordan though. Jordan brings something else for us – nice, big, exciting, young, physical 10.

“He has got a massive right boot. What he is going to bring is some excitement, he is going to take the ball to the line. So, for us it is rotation, but also getting excited for someone like Jordan to come out and really make a difference for us.”

Hendrikse made a brief appearance for the Lions last weekend against the Sharks, playing for four minutes and slotting over one conversion in the 81st minute.

This weekend, however, he will have the massive task of marshallin­g the Lions’ backline from the outset, and will possibly come under pressure from marauding Stormers such as Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi, Marvin Orie and PieterStep­h du Toit, while also being targeted by opposition centres Dan du Plessis and Rikus Pretorius.

Both teams are desperate for a win, having lost their opening two encounters. Expecting a young flyhalf to tackle such a huge undertakin­g in a crucial match might be exciting but neverthele­ss remains a gamble, even if it is a forced one.

With the temporary departure of Elton Jantjies and the long-term injury of Gianni Lombard, the Joburgers were always going to come under pressure at No 10, and the added setback to Zeilinga, although still on the bench for tomorrow, is cause for future concern.

Luckily for the young pivot, he can count on scrumhalf Andre Warner and new Lions skipper

Burger Odendaal to stand on his inside and outside, respective­ly.

It is also a wonderful opportunit­y for the youngster to step up to the plate and impress.

Elsewhere, Willem Alberts is back, Van Rooyen resisting the temptation to start the former Springbok, and rather put him on the bench for maximum impact in the second half.

Hooker Jaco Visagie will make his first start of the season, dropping PJ Botha to the bench, which will reunite the 28-year-old with Sti Sithole and Carlu Sadie – arguably the Lions’ most dynamic front row.

Prop Ruan Dreyer also makes his return, and will add much needed experience later in the game.

They will battle for bragging rights against a possible all-Springbok front row in Kitshoff, Mbonambi and Frans Malherbe.

“The Stormers have a great front row,” said Van Rooyen of that particular battle.

“The challenge for us will be consistenc­y through the 80 minutes, the ability to apply what we want to do set-piece-wise, and countering what they want to achieve.

“We know that, especially in the first 20, 30 minutes, they're really going to come out hard. So, for us, it is focusing on our system.

“We would be foolish to get individual against a Springbok pack, so for us it will be important to collective­ly work together and trust the system to nullify that.”

EMIRATES LIONS

Starting XV: EW Viljoen; Rabz Maxwane, Wandisile Simelane, Burger Odendaal (capt), Courtnall Skosan; Jordan

Hendrikse, André Warner; Francke Horn, Vincent Tshituka, MJ Pelser, Reinhard Nothnagel, Ruben Schoeman, Carlu Sadie, Jaco Visagie, Sti Sithole

Replacemen­ts: PJ Botha, Ruan Dreyer, Asenathi Ntlabakany­e, Willem Alberts, Emmanuel Tshituka, Morné van den Berg, Fred Zeilinga, Dan Kriel

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