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Ken Borland

Ackermann loads bench with forwards as onslaught from Bulls pack expected

Posted on September 10, 2014 by Ken

Xerox Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann said on Thursday that his team are likely to face a tremendous onslaught from the Vodacom Blue Bulls pack in their Absa Currie Cup Premier Division match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday which is why he has chosen a five-two split between forwards and backs on the bench.

Springbok Sevens cap and former Natal Sharks wing Mark Richards could make his Lions debut off the bench, while centre Howard Mnisi, a recent signing from Griquas, is the only other back on the replacements bench.

Ackermann on Thursday named hooker Armand van der Merwe, prop Jacques van Rooyen, lock Martin Muller, utility forward Willie Britz and loose forward Kwagga Smith as the other five substitutes for Saturday’s local derby.

“The Bulls will obviously bring a big onslaught up front and being able to bring on fresh legs will be in our favour. We’ve got a lot of versatile players in the backs – Andries Coetzee can play scrumhalf and between Mark Richards and Kwagga Smith, because of their time as Sevens Springboks, they can cover from scrumhalf to wing.

“So we’ve been able to choose a specialist lock and Willie Britz covers both lock and flank, so it’s a really good mix. It’s going to be very hard at forward, so we’ve gone with five forwards on the bench to bring fresh legs on. We expect a big physical onslaught, we’re ready for it and if the game becomes loose then Willie can do some damage, he’s shown how he can turn games in the second half,” Ackermann said on Thursday.

The Lions coach said he had also decided to hand the captaincy of the team to Derick Minnie, who returns to the starting line-up at eighthman, because last week’s skipper in the victory over the EP Kings, Lionel Mapoe, is too removed from the action on the wing.

“We saw last week Lionel gets caught out wide and can’t get messages to the referee in time, I explained it to him that he’s too far from the action. That’s why so many captains are up front.

“I rely a lot on the captain to set the tone and Derick has done that before. The one with the armband speaks to the referee and to us [the coaching staff], but I want leadership from the players in general, which is why we have unit leaders for the scrums, lineouts and backs,” Ackermann explained.

Minnie has replaced Britz at eighthman, while the other change sees experienced former Bulls hooker Willie Wepener come into the front row in place of Van der Merwe.

Ackermann said he was pleased to welcome Jaco van der Walt back into the flyhalf position.

“I’m pleased to have Jaco back, we saw a lot of potential in him and it’s good to have him back so we can continue our development of him. He’s a specialist flyhalf so hopefully we’ll have more flow, and he’s kicked well in training.

“There are definitely areas and times when you need to relieve the pressure with a kick and Jaco has a long boot. That’s in our favour and will definitely be a factor if things are not going for us,” Ackermann said.

The other change to the Lions team sees Ruan Combrinck moving from fullback to replace Courtnall Skosan on the wing, with Coetzee moving from flyhalf to fullback.

Team: 15-Andries Coetzee, 14-Lionel Mapoe, 13-Stokkies Hanekom, 12-Alwyn Hollenbach, 11-Ruan Combrinck, 10-Jaco van der Walt, 9-Ross Cronje, 8-Derick Minnie, 7-Warwick Tecklenburg, 6-Jaco Kriel, 5-Franco Mostert, 4-MB Lusaseni, 3-Ruan Dreyer, 2-Willie Wepener, 1-Schalk van der Merwe. Bench – 16-Armand van der Merwe, 17-Jacques van Rooyen, 18-Martin Muller, 19-Willie Britz, 20-Kwagga Smith, 21-Mark Richards, 22-Howard Mnisi.

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