Emirates Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen has named loosehead prop JP Smith to start for his team's encounter against Scottish outfit Edinburgh in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship at Emirates Airline Park this Saturday.
Emirates Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen has named loosehead prop JP Smith to start for his team’s encounter against Scottish outfit Edinburgh in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship at Emirates Airline Park this Saturday. Smith comes in for regular starter Sti Sithole who has been rested after a series of matches in the competition.
Hooker PJ Botha and centre Manuel Rass come in for Jaco Visagie and Burger Odendaal, respectively.
“Jaco and Burger were close contacts earlier in the week, so COVID-19 protocols mean they needed to be away from the team to mitigate risk. They will be assessed on Monday next week,” explains Van Rooyen.
Speaking on Smith’s inclusion, the Lions mentor says the loosehead prop has been rewarded for great performances across all competitions.
“JP has impressed us in both the Carling Currie Cup as well as stints in the URC, so we are eager to see what he can offer us from minute one,” said Van Rooyen.
The Johannesburg-based side, led by lock Reinhard Nothnagel, will look to continue their positive string of results against northern hemisphere opposition, following wins against Cardiff, Munster and Ospreys in recent weeks.
Van Rooyen however cautioned against taking the foot off the pedal especially against a side who recorded a big win last weekend in Durban.
“Edinburgh were successful last week, so they might fancy their chances up here. Likewise, we’ve had a string of positive results in recent weeks which has certainly motivated us to improve on our performances as the tournament progresses.”
With the recent announcement by government to relax COVID-19 restrictions, Van Rooyen believes an increase in fan attendance is a major boost for the sport.
“It’s always fantastic playing in front of a packed stadium, so we’re looking forward to experiencing that kind of atmosphere once more with the increase of the number of fans at sports venues. As a team, it certainly plays a huge role from a motivation point of view,” he concludes.
Kick-off is at 16:05
Heading to the game? Make sure you read the updated stadium protocols: https://t.co/CHvcQVbdgy
Meet the Emirates Lions ahead of the match, and come say hi to the playing squad after on the field 👋
— Lions (@LionsRugbyCo) April 1, 2022
15. Quan Horn, 14. Rabz Maxwane, 13. Wandisile Simelane, 12. Manuel Rass, 11. Edwill van der Merwe, 10. Jordan Hendrikse, 9. Morne van den Berg, 8. Emmanuel Tshituka, 7. Vincent Tshituka, 6. Francke Horn, 5. Reinhard Nothnagel (capt), 4. Ruben Schoeman, 3. Carlu Sadie, 2. PJ Botha, 1. JP Smith. Replacements: 16. Morne Brandon, 17. Ruan Dreyer, 18. Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 19. Ruan Venter, 20. Sibusiso Sangweni, 21. Andre Warner, 22. Henco van Wyk, 23. Tiaan van Wyk