With another loss against the Brumbies last week the Emirates Lions need a step up this week for more than one reason.
The next two weeks sees them playing the Chiefs and then the Crusaders before going home to play the Waratahs.
With a 50% record at the moment they can not afford too many slip-ups anymore.
Lions coach Swys de Bruin made some rotational changes to the team to face the Chiefs this weekend but the good news is that Springbok and Lions captain Warren Whiteley is back to lead them.
He will give Springboks, Elton Jantjies and Malcolm Marx the week off.
There places will be taken by Gianni Lombard and Andries Coetzee. Ross Cronje also comes in for Nic Groom at scrumhalf.
The Lions received a major blow with the news that wing Courtnall Skosan has returned to South Africa ahead of his side’s clash against the Chiefs in Hamilton on Friday.
According to a Lions statement on Wednesday, Skosan’s father is “gravely ill”.
Tyler Green has been called upon and he will fly in to New Zealand as replacement.
This has cause De Bruin to make some changes to his original side.
Sylvian Mahuza will now move from fullback to right wing to replace Skosan while Andries Coetzee, who was due to start on the bench, will take the number fifteen jumper.
Ruan Combrinck will now take his place on the bench as cover.
Lions coach Swys de Bruin has named his team for Friday’s Super Rugby clash against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
The Chiefs are having their own problems as well. As if losing Mckenzie was not enough they will now have to do without their captain Retallick and Nathan Harris.
Retallick injured his arm against the Blues last week while Harris picked up a knee injury.
The Chiefs are also without their electric outside back Solomon Alaimalo who has a hamstring injury.
“Our team took a battering against the Blues,” Matson said. “Nathan got dinged up quite badly, so he is going to have a full turnaround again, then we go into the double derby, so it just made sense that he gets to rest the body a little bit this week.“
Retallick’s injury wasn’t solely his shoulder. His wrist was also banged up and required a scan, Matson said.
“Nothing serious. Nothing is broken or dislodged but it was still really painful and swollen. He’s a bit like Nathan with the short turnaround . . . he gets an Easter breather, as well.”
Brad Weber will lead the Chiefs from the number nine jumper.
Laim Polwart will make his first appearance at hooker in place of Harris
He will combine with Angus Ta’avao and Nepo Laulala. Loosehead prop Atu Moli returns from his elbow injury and is joined by Samisoni Taukei’aho and Sosefo Kautai who will provide front row cover.
There is also a new lock combination in Tyler Ardron and Mitchell Brown.
In the midfield Alex Nankivell will start with Anton Lienert-Brown.
Ataata Moeakiola will start on the left wing in place of injured winger Solomon Alaimalo.
Jack Debreczeni will start at fullback in place of Damian McKenzie.
With so many changes to both sides it is really anyones game on Friday.
Some Interesting Facts (OPTA)
- The Lions won on their most recent visit to face the Chiefs in Super Rugby (36-32, Round 2, 2016), the Chiefs had won all five previous home matches against the South African side by an aggregate score of 189-74.
- This will be the fourth consecutive time that the Chiefs have hosted the Lions in this Super Rugby fixture (W2, L1), the Chiefs haven’t paid a visit to the Lions in Johannesburg since Round 10 2011 (Chiefs won 34-30).
- The Chiefs have played the Lions 10 times in Super Rugby history for seven wins and three losses, the New Zealand outfit have won five of the last six clashes (L1).
- In their most recent Super Rugby fixture, against the Blues, the Chiefs lost two scrums on their own feed for the first time since Round 3 2017, they have had a 100% scrum success rate in their last 11 matches against South African sides (73/73).
- Malcolm Marx (Lions) has played the most minutes (622) of any hooker in Super Rugby 2019, almost 100 more than the next hooker behind him (James Parsons, 529 minutes).
Prediction: Chiefs has struggled with an out-of-position McKenzie, losing him will have a huge impact in their attacking play, Lions by 7 for us this week.
15 Jack Debreczeni, 14 Sean Wainui, 13 Alex Nankivell, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Ataata Moeakiola, 10 Marty McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber (captain), 8 Taleni Seu, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Luke Jacobson, 5 Mitchell Brown, 4 Tyler Ardron, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Liam Polwart, 1 Angus Ta’avao
Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Atu Moli, 18 Sosefo Kautai, 19 Jesse Parete, 20 Pita Gus Sowakula, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Tumua Manu, 23 Shaun Stevenson
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Franco Naude, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Gianni Lombard, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Sti Sithole
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Frans Van Wyk, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Ruan Combrinck