3 Lions rookies ready to make an immediate impact in prep series

0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Emmanuel Tshituka. (Photo by Anton Geyser/Gallo Images)
Emmanuel Tshituka. (Photo by Anton Geyser/Gallo Images)
  • The Lions have made no secret of the fact that they intend to blood a few youngsters in the preparation series.
  • While a few experienced players are present, Friday's match against the Pumas sees a host of rookies making an appearance.
  • Sport24 picks three players who could make an immediate impact.

The Lions kick-off the preparation series on Friday evening with a match against the Pumas at Ellis Park (19:00).

It's already become abundantly clear that the four PRO16 franchises in particular will be using the platform to blood some youngsters along with senior squad members who didn't feature prominently in last season's domestic campaign.

The men from Doornfontein are no exception and have also attempted to strike that balance.

Teams:

Lions

15 EW Viljoen, 14 Prince Nkabinde, 13 Manny Rass, 12 James Mollentze, 11 Divan Rossouw, 10 Tiaan Swanepoel, 9 Morne van den Berg, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Roelof Smit, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Rienhard Nothnagel (captain), 4 Emmanuel Tshituka, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 PJ Botha, 1 Nathan McBeth

Substitutes: 16 Dameon Venter, 17 Banele Mthenjane, 18 Jannie du Plessis, 19 Ruhan Straeuli, 20 MJ Pelser, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Luke Rossouw, 23 Ngia Selengbe

Pumas

15 Devon Williams, 14 Luther Obi, 13 Alwayno Visagie, 12 Wayne van der Bank, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Eddie Fouche, 9 Giovan Snyman, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Ewart Potgieter, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren (captain), 4 Brandon Valentyn, 3 Ig Prinsloo, 2 Simon Westraadt, 1 Morgan Naude

Substitutes: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Liam Hendriks, 18 Dewald Maritz, 19 Le Roux Roets, 20 Ginter Smuts, 21 Tapiwa Mafura, 22 Ali Mgijima, 23 Kwanda Dimaza

In fact, there's a distinct sense that their match squad tilts towards being an inexperienced combination and might find it quite difficult to cope with a Pumas outfit that isn't far from being at full strength.

But Mziwakhe Nkosi, the Lions head coach for the series, isn't remotely fearing that he's throwing his charges into the deep end.

"The Pumas have shown that they're a quality team," he said.

"For a few players in our team, it will definitely be an acid test. But there are some players in our ranks with their own pedigree, Junior Springboks who've already made a name for themselves. 

"To be honest, I think the team are evenly matched. I don't believe we're throwing anyone to the wolves."

Here are three youngsters in the starting line-up who can really make an impact from the outset.

EMMANUEL TSHITUKA (Lock)

The younger brother of senior squad flanker Vince, the 21-year-old has stormed into the Lions XV on the back of a magnificent campaign in last season's Under-21 Championship.

Talented but distinctly raw when he left school, Tshituka transformed himself into a marauding second-rower, who bulked up his already lanky frame to become nothing less than an enforcer in the No 4 jersey.

His work rate and dominance of collisions gave his team-mates a vital platform to launch their varied game from while also providing neat touches as a linking player on attack.

Nkosi, in fact, labelled him as the best lock in the tournament last year, making it only a matter of time before he graduated to senior level.

FRANCKE HORN (No 8)

Signing the former Junior Springbok vice-captain in 2019 was considered a coup for the Lions and the imposing loose forward has done little to dispel that thought.

Possessing the type of physical presence that the Lions need in their loose trio, Horn has intertwined robustness with a wonderful turn of speed to already become a regular face in the senior squad.

He was even considered ready to be exposed to a high stakes environment when he was included on the bench for the Currie Cup semi-final against the Bulls and the Lions will hope he becomes the weapon they're craving for: a more brutal version of Warren Whiteley.

JAMES MOLLENTZE (Centre)

The Lions have set a bit of a new trend with players like Mollentze and senior winger Stean Pienaar: the pocket rocket with some real punch.

Mollentze is definitely not the tallest midfielder to be found in South African rugby, but tips the scales at nearly 100kg, rendering him an ideal candidate to punch holes in an opposition defence.

One of the Junior Springboks' stars in 2019's World Championship campaign, the 21-year-old's vast experience at flyhalf also means that he's a playmaker of note with a decent boot.

The Lions make no secret of the fact that they cherish backs with utility value and Mollentze oozes that quality. 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Rugby
40% - 14076 votes
Cricket
13% - 4369 votes
Football
19% - 6544 votes
Athletics
3% - 902 votes
Boxing
1% - 340 votes
Cycling
2% - 809 votes
Golf
5% - 1762 votes
Motorsport
9% - 2971 votes
Tennis
3% - 1218 votes
Water sports
1% - 320 votes
American sports
1% - 433 votes
MMA / WWE / UFC
3% - 1167 votes
Vote