Beware of pineapple on pizza and varied Benetton: Lions lean on Coetzee for Italian trip

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Andries Coetzee. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
Andries Coetzee. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
  • Veteran fullback Andries Coetzee's local knowledge will be tapped into as the Lions depart for their URC meeting with Italian heavyweights Benetton this weekend.
  • The former Bok cites their hosts' ability to combine power with precision as a major threat.
  • Various rookies have been enlisted for the trip, but Jaco Kriel and Willem Alberts provide much-needed experience. 

Whether the Lions will actually have enough time for any sort of sightseeing is debatable, but Andries Coetzee is going to give it a shot.

The wily fullback and his teammates travel to Treviso on Tuesday evening ahead of a URC meeting with Italian heavyweights Benetton this coming weekend and the group will rely heavily on Coetzee providing proverbial inside info on tackling the challenge.

Contracted by the hosts last season, the 13-cap Springbok made waves with his characteristic rock-solid contributions before returning home.

"I'll definitely have to guide the guys on what toppings they need to put on their pasta. They don't have a lot of options really," Coetzee said with a smile ahead of the flight to Europe.

"No pineapple on your pizza and also no white wine with your pizza. But yes, I'll definitely make a point of showing the guys around Treviso, it's a really nice little town with lots of culture."

Lions touring squad:


Willem Alberts, PJ Botha, Morne Brandon Ruan Dreyer, Travis Gordon, Francke Horn, Jaco Kriel, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Reinhard Nothnagel, Ruan Delport, Ruben Schoeman, Rhynhardt Rijnsburger, JP Smith, Emmanuel Tshituka, Ruan Venter


Andries Coetzee, Quan Horn, Rynhardt Jonker, Gianni Lombard, Marius Louw, Rabz Maxwane, Sanele Nohamba, Manny Rass, Morne van den Berg, Edwill van der Merwe

Amusement aside, the Lions - burdened currently with reports of infighting between the coaching staff and CEO Rudolf Straeuli - will actually hope to build on some momentum on the field, where they've won their last two URC encounters against Glasgow and the Bulls.

Yet the limited time in Italy and the prospect of a home team emboldened by the return of several national stars means making it three-in-a-row is probably a daunting ask.

"It will be good to see my former teammates. We all know Benetton are a big and physical side. They balance that by being good with ball in hand too," said Coetzee.

"It's going to be a proper match with Test-like intensity I think. They do, after all, have quite a few national players. It's going to be fast and physical."

READ | Bulls and Lions both run into tough times. Only one seems capable of getting out of it

With the influential Jordan Hendrikse still sidelined till late June earliest, the Lions will be grateful for the return of halfback Sanele Nohamba, who was outstanding against the Bulls, and reunites with pivot Gianni Lombard.

The pair were instrumental in the Lions ending their first tour of the season - a three-match trip to Wales and Scotland - with three wins in the bag.

Currie Cup stars Travis Gordon and Ruan Delport have been handed "promotions", while regular skipper Reinhard Nothnagel is also back from injury.

The grizzled duo of Willem Alberts and Jaco Kriel provide much-needed experience.


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