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Lions spoiled for choice ahead of Sharks clash

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The Lions will enjoy the strength of consistency on Saturday after they announced a virtually unchanged side for their clash against the Sharks.

Dan Kriel returns to the Lions’ match-day squad. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – The Lions will enjoy the strength of consistency on Saturday after they announced a virtually unchanged side for their clash against the Sharks at Emirates Airline Park (kick-off 4pm).

There is only one change to the side that beat the Bulls narrowly a fortnight ago, and it sees Dan Kriel return to the matchday squad, replacing Manuel Rass on the bench in the No 23 jersey.

Everywhere else, Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen has had the luxury of sticking to the players that secured their first win of the Rainbow Cup when they defeated the table-topping Bulls 34-33.

Wandisile Simelane, who is expected to be in the running for a Springbok call-up on Saturday to join the squad to face the British and Irish Lions next month, and recently returned from the second Bok alignment camp, will once again partner in the midfield with captain Burger Odendaal, affording the outside centre a final opportunity to impress the national selectors.

Wandisile Simelane of the Lions during the 2021 Rainbow Cup SA match between Lions and Bulls at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg on the 22 May 2021 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

The return leg fixture will further grant Van Rooyen’s team an opportunity to continue to build on their recent improvement, and a handsome victory over the Sharks, coupled with a Bulls defeat on Friday night when they face the Stormers, could open up a chance for a final push for top honours in the tournament, and the possibility to play in the Rainbow Cup North vs South final.

After the Sharks encounter, the Lions will face the Stormers at Newlands in their final regular season match of the competition.

Emirates Lions (15-1): EW Viljoen, Rabz Maxwane, Wandisile Simelane, Burger Odendaal (capt), Courtnall Skosan, Jordan Hendrikse, André Warner, Len Massyn, Vincent Tshituka, MJ Pelser, Reinhard Nothnagel, Ruben Schoeman, Carlu Sadie, Jaco Visagie, Sti Sithole. Bench: PJ Botha, Ruan Dreyer, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Willem Alberts, Emmanuel Tshituka, Morné van den Berg, Fred Zeilinga, Dan Kriel.