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Lions unchanged for Currie Cup Final
Oct 28, 2011 - Coach John Mitchell put faith in the starting XV that knocked Western Province out of the Currie Cup when he named an unchanged side for the final clash against the Sharks this weekend.

It's the Lions first final since 2007, when they narrowly lost to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein (20-18), and the first home final since 2002, when they were heavily dumped by the Blue Bulls (31-7). The Lions last won the Currie Cup in 1999, and that was against the Sharks but in Durban. The Lions last won the Currie Cup at home way back in 1950, when they beat Western Province 22-11.

Two weeks ago the Sharks recorded a big win over the Lions, but the Lions rested a number of players that will start on Saturday, so even though the Sharks might start as favourites, in a Final it can go any way. Here's hoping for a Lions victory!

The full team is:
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Doppies la Grange, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Josh Strauss (c), 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 CJ van der Linde
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse/JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Warren Whiteley, 19 Cobus Grobbelaar, 20 Butch James, 21 Dylan des Fountain, 22 James Kamana


 
Lions change eleven for WP Semi-Final
Oct 20, 2011 - Coach John Mitchell basically changed the whole side after the shock defeat of 53-9 to the Sharks last Saturday. He made eleven changes, granted that three of them are positional.

Only Jaco Taute, Deon van Rensburg, Michael Bondesio and Wikus van Heerden will start in the same positions as last week. If the Lions lose, it is also likely that this will be the last time we see Wikus in a Lions jersey, as I'm not sure that he has another season in him. The big news is that Springbok CJ van der Linde will make his Lions debut, this after JC Janse van Rensburg was injured in the match against the Sharks.

Western Province normally struggles at Ellis Park, with their last win over the Lions here in 2005. The two teams last met in a Semi-Final eleven years ago in 2000 at Newlands, in a match that went WP's way. WP was able to pick most of their Springboks for this match, and I think it will be a close affair, but with so many Boks it should, at least on paper, go the way of the visitors, but luckily the match will be played on grass!

The full team is:
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Doppies la Grange, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Josh Strauss (c), 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 CJ van der Linde
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Warren Whiteley, 19 Cobus Grobbelaar/Jaco Kriel, 20 Butch James, 21 Dylan des Fountain, 22 James Kamana


 
Lions change 8 for Sharks clash
Oct 13, 2011 - Coach John Mitchell made no fewer than eight changes to the side that will travel to Durban to play the Sharks in the final league match of the Currie Cup on Saturday.

The Lions have already secured the top place on the log, and the coach is giving a number of his players that warmed the bench this season a start in the run on team. Butch James, who did duty with the Springboks, is back from New Zealand, and was named on the bench, and will in all likelyhood make his Currie Cup debut for the Lions.

The changes are: Dylan des Fountain in at Outside Centre in the place of Doppies, who moves to inside Centre in the place of Alwyn Hollenbach, James Kamana in at Wing in the place of Killian, Burton Francis in at Flyhalf for Jantjies, Jaco Kriel at Openside Flanker in the place of Minnie, Wikus van Heerden back after injury in the place of Franco van der Merwe, Jacobie Adriaanse at Tighthead prop in for Cilliers, and Martin Bezuidenhout in for Maku at Hooker.

With the Sharks playing at home and looking to also secure a home-semi, and with the chance that some of their Boks are also playing, I think they will just edge the Lions in this match, by 5 or so.

The full team is:
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Dylan des Fountain, 12 Doppies la Grange, 11 James Kamana, 10 Burton Francis, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Josh Strauss (c), 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Michael Rhodes, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: 16 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Patric Cilliers, 18 Franco van der Merwe, 19 Derick Minnie, 20 Elton Jantjies, 21 Butch James, 22 Michael Killian


 
Lions change three for WP clash
Oct 6, 2011 - Coach John Mitchell made three changes to the side that will face Western Province at Ellis Park on the weekend. Cobus Grobbelaar sustained a rib injury and seems to be out for the rest of the season, so this prompted two positional changes with Minnie taking Grobbelaar's place at Openside Flanker, Josh Strauss moving to Blindside, and Whiteley slotting in at Number Eight.

Jaco Kriel is the only change on the bench, which means that once again there isn't a recognised Scrumhalf on the bench.

In the first round the Lions suffered a two point loss at Newlands, going down 26-28, but since then Province has been plagued by injuries and I think the Lions will be too strong for them at home, I predict a Lions win by 10.

The full team is:
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Doppies La Grange, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Josh Strauss (c), 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 David Bulbring, 19 Jaco Kriel, 20 Burton Francis, 21 Dylan des Fountain, 22 James Kamana


 
Lions name side to face Cheetahs
Sep 29, 2011 - Coach John Mitchell named the Lions side to play the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein this weekend on Wednesday. Michael Bondesio has recovered from injury and will be back at Scrumhalf, this after Rudy Paige received some critisism from the coach after his first Currie Cup match against the Blue Bulls last weekend.

After Paige's lacklustre performance last Saturday, he was dropped from the match 22 altogether. "Rudi got a great education last week and he knows what is required," Mitchell told a media gathering on Wednesday - when asked about the axing of the 2007 SA Schools captain and 2009 SA Under-20 scrumhalf. "I certainly won't accept a scrumhalf in the squad, going forward, if he can't make his tackles," Mitchell added.

Doppies la Grange will once again have to stand in as backup Scrumhalf.

In the first round the Lions pulled off a 17-10 win at Ellis Park, but in Bloemfontein it will be difficult, as the Cheetahs have upped their game a bit and managed a few good wins in their last couple of matches, so I'm going to go with a Cheetahs win by 5.

The full team is:
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Doppies La Grange, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Josh Strauss (c), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 David Bulbring, 19 Warren Whiteley, 20 Burton Francis, 21 Dylan des Fountain, 22 James Kamana


 
Lions change three for Griquas clash
Sep 6, 2011 - Coach John Mitchell made three changes to the side that will play Griquas at Ellis Park on Saturday. Doppies la Grange replaces the injured Lionel Mapoe at Outside Centre, while Joshua Strauss is back at Number Eight and also takes over the cpataincy again. Derick Minnie is back from his rest at Flank in the place of Michael Rhodes. On the bench James Kamana returns after being sidelined with a injury for a few months.

This brings the number of changes in the Currie Cup season to 20, not bad with only five matches left after this one, excluding the play-offs.

In the first round the Lions surprised everyone with a huge win in Kimberley, and Griquas will probably come better prepared for this match, but the Lions should still be able to get a comfortable victory.

The full team is:
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Doppies La Grange, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Josh Strauss (c), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Johan Snyman, 19 Michael Rhodes, 20 Warren Whiteley, 21 Burton Francis, 22 James Kamana


 
Lions change one for Pumas clash
Sep 1, 2011 - Coach John Mitchell once again made only one change to the side that will play the Pumas in Witbank on Saturday. Derick Minnie gets a well deserved rest, and Michael Rhodes gets a start in his place.

This brings the number of changes in the Currie Cup season to 17. There was only one change last week, but then Josh Strauss had to withdraw from the match, and he was replaced by Warren Whiteley. This week Josh and Warren were bracketed at Number Eight, so if Josh can play, it will actually be two changes from the last match. For now, Cobus Grobbelaar will lead the team, just like last week.

In the first round the Lions managed a close win, but has since settled and it should be a comfortable victory for the Lions.

The full team is:
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Josh Strauss/Warren Whiteley, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar(c), 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Johan Snyman, 19 Warren Whiteley/Josh Strauss, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Doppies La Grange, 22 Burton Francis


 
Only one change for Sharks clash
Aug 24, 2011 - For the second week in a row coach John Mitchell made only one change to the side that will play the Sharks at Ellis Park on Saturday. Wikus van Heerden has recovered from his injury and replaces Johan Snyman at Lock.

This brings the number of changes in the Currie Cup season to 15. There was only one change last week, but then Wikus was injured and Johan Snyman replaced him in the starting XV.

The Sharks are the team against which the Lions have the worst record, with a 43.48% win ratio since 1991. The two teams have played each other 46 times since 1991, with 20 wins for the Lions, 25 for the Sharks and 1 draw. Of the last 7 matches the Lions only won one, the last time the two teams met at Ellis Park in the 2010 Currie Cup, with a 22-20 win. The two teams did draw in the Super 15 match at Ellis Park earlier this year, and with the Lions basically playing the same side, and the Sharks missing their Boks, a win for the Lions seems likely.

The full team is:
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Josh Strauss(c), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Johan Snyman, 19 Michael Rhodes, 20 Warren Whiteley, 21 Doppies La Grange, 22 Burton Francis


 
Lions change one for Province clash
Aug 16, 2011 - Coach John Mitchell made only one change to the side to play Western Province at Newlands on Friday. It's called a rotational change, with Pat Cilliers taking the place of Jacobie Adriaanse at Tighthead Prop.

This brings the number of changes in the Currie Cup season to 13, this after three changes last week against the Cheetahs.

The Lions have a 48.8% win ratio against Western Province since 1991, having won 20 out of 41 matches played in this period. Province won three of the last five matches between the two teams, but the last time that the Lions managed a win at Newlands was seven years ago in 2004, when they won 35-26.

The full team is:
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Josh Strauss(c), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Michael Rhodes, 19 Warren Whiteley, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Jannie Boshoff


 
Lions change four for Bulls clash
Aug 3, 2011 - Coach John Mitchell made four changes to the side to play the Bulls at Loftus on Saturday. The big news is that Jano Vermaak was dropped from the match 22, this after the Bulls announced on Tuesday that they have signed the scrumhalf for two seasons. Jano has played 74 matches for the Lions, and his last may have been last weekend against the Leopards.

Michael Bondesio will start in Vermaak's place at scrumhalf, with Rudy Paige on the bench as his backup. The other three changes are Elton Jantjies back at Flyhalf in the place of Burton Francis, Lionel Mapoe on the left wing in the place of Dylan des Fountain, and JC Janse van Rensburg at Loosehead prop in the place of Pat Cilliers. Warren Whiteley and Jaco Taute are also back on the bench. This brings the number of changes in the Currie Cup season to nine.

The Lions have a 49% win ratio against the Bulls since 1991, having won 25 out of 51 matches played in this period. The Bulls won the last two matches the teams faced each other, although the one at Loftus last year was a close affair, the score 24-21 to the Bulls. I think it will be another close match, with the Bulls winning with their home ground advantage.

The full team is:
15 Michael Killian, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Lionel Mapoe, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Josh Strauss(c), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Michael Rhodes, 19 Warren Whiteley, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Jaco Taute


 
Lions change two for Leopards clash
July 27, 2011 - Coach John Mitchell made two changes to the Lions side to play the Leopards at Ellis Park on Saturday. Both changes were forced by injury, as Doppies la Grange and Lionel Mapoe are both out injured, and their places taken by Alwyn Hollenbach and Dylan des Fountain respectively. This brings the number of changes to the starting XV in the 2011 Currie Cup season to five.

The Lions last lost a match against the Leopards in 1992, and have a 96% win ratio against them since 1991. I suspect the Leopards are slightly weaker than last year, and I predict a big win for the Lions, something along the lines of 60-15.

The full team is:
15 Michael Killian, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Dylon des Fountain, 10 Burton Francis, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Josh Strauss(c), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Pat Cilliers
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Johan Snyman, 19 Michael Rhodes, 20 Michael Bondesio, 21 Hein Cronje, 22 Jannie Boshoff/Andries Coetzee


 
Lions change three for Griquas clash
July 20, 2011 - Coach John Mitchell made three changes to the Lions side to play Griquas in Kimberley this weekend, when the Lions will aim to do something that they couldn't do last year, and that is to beat Griquas at their home ground.

Fullback Jaco Taute was injured against the Pumas, and he is replaced by Michael Killian, while Alwyn Hollenbach and Dylan des Fountain did't have such a great match against the Pumas, so they are replaced by Waylon Murray and Deon van Rensburg respectively.

Last year in Kimberley the Lions went down 26-20, and after the poor showing at Ellis Park against the Pumas I'm not sure that it's wise to back a Lions win...

The full team is:
15 Michael Killian, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Doppies la Grange(c), 11 Lionel Mapoe, 10 Burton Francis, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Pat Cilliers
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Johan Snyman, 19 Dries van Schalkwyk, 20 Michael Bondesio, 21 Hein Cronje, 22 Alwyn Hollenbach


 
A day in the life of a Lions Rugby Player
July 17, 2011 - I used to dream about the Transvaal team; what they were doing, how their training was going and where they might play next. I then began to think about what else they did besides train; taking some time out or having a holiday should be encouraged so they players can recharge.

Rugby is a tough and intense sport, so taking some time out is equally as important. I wondered what they would do in their spare time to relax. Maybe they would watch some TV, get out their X Box or even play online games such as partypoker.com or battleships. But being such athletic men, I am sure they did something more proactive like taking a relaxing stroll. But exercise is only one factor to staying in shape.

Besides training, eating healthy food is important for staying fit and strong. The right diet is vital to many athletes, so having a high protein diet keeps their bodies lean. Foods like chicken, pork and fish, have the highest levels of protein. However, you must choose the right cut of meat if you want to consume the most protein. Having just a wing of chicken only contains 6 grams of protein, whereas a small can of tuna holds around 40 grams. A pork loin is reasonably rich in the vitamin, containing almost 30 grams per portion. If being an an athletes diet means being encouraged to eat steak (42 grams) and bacon (around 6 grams a slice), that is really fortunate for them. Unless they are vegetarian of course.

And once the rugby players have enjoyed a protein rich lunch and worked it all of on the field, the best cool down method is an ice bath. After any intense exercise session, the tendons are stretched, damaged and very loose. Bathing in ice water not only retracts them gently, but also sooths and heals them. The cold water repairs the torn muscle fibers which in turn prevents aches and pains the following day.

But a slightly more pleasant cool down method could be the sports massage. However, the masseuse is not there to relax the athletes; there are no scented candles or soothing music, just strong fingers digging in to the muscles to relieve them. Not only fingertips, but the sharp tips of elbows are also used in their technique to reach deep in to the tissue.

Being a Lions player must be tough at times, not all of us could cope with ice cold baths or painful massages, but the reward of playing your favorite sport with your friends for a living, must feel great.


 
Lions name side for Currie Cup opener
July 13, 2011 - Coach John Mitchell named the side to play the Pumas in the Currie Cup opener on Friday evening at Ellis Park. The team shows only six changes from the side that played in the last Super 15 match for the Lions, with three of the changes positional. Only five players were in the starting XV in the last Currie Cup match, which was also against the Pumas in October last year.

With Butch James and Elton Jantjies on Bok duty, Burton Francis stands in at Flyhalf, and will probably have to fill that spot for most of the season. The rest of the team has a familiar look to it, with the exception that Pat Cilliers is back at Loosehead Prop, his favoured position, with Jacobie Adriaanse at Tighthead, and JC Janse van Rensburg seemingly getting a deserved rest after starting at Loosehead for most of the Super 15.

The Lions have a 79% win ratio against the Pumas since 1991, having lost only four matches against them out of 24, but the last loss was in the last match that they played at Ellis Park in October last year, so the Lions will definitely look for revenge in this match.

The full team is:
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Dylan des Fountain, 13 Alwyn Hollenbach, 12 Doppies la Grange(c), 11 Lionel Mapoe, 10 Burton Francis, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Pat Cilliers
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Johan Snyman, 19 Dries van Schalkwyk, 20 Michael Bondesio, 21 Hein Cronje, 22 Michael Killian


 
Lions change five for Sharks clash
June 09, 2011 - Coach John Mitchell made five changes to the Lions side to play the Sharks at Ellis Park on Saturday. Amazingly that means that he has made exactly 60 changes during the Super 15 season.

The changes are Cobus Grobbelaar or Jaco Kriel replacing Derick Minnie at Openside Flanker, with Minnie moving to Blindside Flanker in the place of Joshua Strauss, who moves to Number Eight, replacing Warren Whiteley who will be on the bench. Butch James moves to Flyhalf in the place of Elton Jantjies, who also moves to the bench, with Alwyn Hollenbach taking Butch's place at Inside Centre. Franco van der Merwe was bracketed with David de Villiers, and if Franco can't play, it will be six changes and 61 for the season.

The Sharks are currently in 5th place on the log and they are in the running for the playoffs, so I don't think they will drop this match. In the previous encounter in Durban they beat the Lions 27-3, so I think they will also win this one by at least 15.

The full team is:
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Dylan des Fountain, 13 Doppies la Grange(c), 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Deon van Rensburg, 10 Butch James, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar/Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco van der Merwe/David de Villiers, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 David de Villiers/David Bulbring, 19 Warren Whiteley, 20 Michael Bondesio, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Michael Killian


 
Lions change four for Highlanders clash
May 26, 2011 - Elton Jantjies is back at Flyhalf for the Lions against the Highlanders, with Butch James moving to Inside Centre for this match.

This means that captian Doppies la Grange moves to Outside Centre, not a position that I can recall he has ever started in. Dylan des Fountain will do duty at Right Wing in the place of Lionel Mapoe, who is out for the rest of the competition with a broken jaw. Michael Killian, who flew out to New Zealand on the weekend after recovering from a hamstring injury, will be on the bench. This brings the total number of changes that coach Mitchell has made during the season to 53, basically on par with the changes that Dick Muir made last year, proving that he is equally clueless as to who his best XV is.

The Highlanders are currently in 7th place on the log but having a much better season than last year when they finished second last. I think the Landers will take it by at least 15.

The full team is:
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Dylan des Fountain, 13 Doppies la Grange(c), 12 Butch James, 11 Deon van Rensburg, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Warren Whiteley, 19 Cobus Grobbelaar, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Alwyn Hollenbach, 22 Michael Killian


 
Lions change three for Waratahs clash
May 19, 2011 - Butch James will make his first start for the Lions in the Super 15 against the Waratahs after being named in the starting line-up as one of three changes this week.

This brings the total number of changes that Mitchell has made during the season to 49. The other changes for the match are Alwyn Hollenbach moving from Inside to Outside Centre, and Doppies la Grange taking his place and the captaincy at Inside Centre.

Hollenbach made good use of the few chances that he got this season and it's good to see that he is rewarded with another start. It will also be very interesting to see what impact James will make on the struggling Lions, who have won only 2 of their 12 matches this season.

The Waratahs are currently sitting in 6th place on the log and they had a bye last week, so it will certainly be a tough test for the Lions, I say Waratahs by 15.

The full team is:
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Alwyn Hollenbach, 12 Doppies la Grange(c), 11 Deon van Rensburg, 10 Butch James, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Warren Whiteley, 19 Cobus Grobbelaar, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Dylan des Fountain


 
Lions change ten for Brumbies clash
May 12, 2011 - Coach John Mitchell made a whopping ten changes to the side to play the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday, keeping only five players in the same positions after the fiasco against the Cheetahs at home last weekend.

This brings the total number of changes that Mitchell has made during the season to 46, and to 21 in just the last three matches, and it's pretty clear that we are in the same situation as last year when Dick Muir was the coach, when the coach all of a sudden towards the end of the season just chopped and changed from match to match, basically stumbling from one weekend to another. This is the business end of the season, when the coach should have settled on his best XV, and keeping the changes to a minimum.

I'm not even going to bother listing the changes, it's to many. Josh Strauss was named as the third captain of the season as Doppies la Grange was injured against the Cheetahs, giving Alwyn Hollenbach his first start of the season.

The Brumbies are also having a very poor season for a team that is used to doing much better, but with all these changes I see a hiding for the Lions.

The full team is:
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Dylan des Fountain, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Deon van Rensburg, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Josh Strauss(c), 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Kevin Buys, 18 Warren Whiteley, 19 Cobus Grobbelaar, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Jannie Boshoff


 
Lions change six for Cheetahs clash
May 4, 2011 - Coach John Mitchell made six changes to the side to play the Cheetahs at Ellis Park on Friday evening, once again raising questions about his lack of maintaining continuity in the team.

This brings the total number of changes that Mitchell has made during the season to 36, and to eleven in just the last two matches, so it's unclear if the coach is struggling to identify his best XV players with more than half the season already over.

The changes are, Dylan des Fountain in for the injured Waylon Murray at Outside Centre, Rory Kockott replacing Jano Vermaak at Scrumhalf, Josh Strauss back at Blindside Flanker in the place of Michael Rhodes, David de Villiers starting at Lock in the place of Franco van der Merwe, Kevin Buys at Tighthead in the place of Pat Cilliers, and Edgar Marutlulle in at Hooker in the place of Martin Bezuidenhout.

Waylon Murray's injury seems set to see him miss the overseas matches of the Lions, with the same a possibility for Bandise Maku.

So far in the season the Lions have only beaten the Cheetahs, and this time the teams are playing at the home ground of the Lions, so it should be a match that the Lions can win, but then again the Cheetahs have lifted their game during the season to pick up three wins against other sides, so it won't be a given that the Lions can take this one. I give it to the Cheetahs by 5 or less.

The full team is:
15 Michael Killian, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Dylan des Fountain, 12 Doppies La Grange (captain), 11 Deon van Rensburg, 10 Burton Francis, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Warren Whitely, 7 Josh Strauss, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 David de Villiers, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Patric Cilliers, 18 Franco van der Merwe, 19 Michael Rhodes, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Jaco Taute


 
Lions change five for Chiefs clash
April 21, 2011 - Coach John Mitchell made five changes to the side to play the Chiefs at Ellis Park on Saturday, continuing with a sudden trend of making wholesale changes after keeping the continuity earlier in the season. Unfortunately that is probably a sign that the coach has run out of answers.

This brings the total number of changes that the coach has made during the season to 30, getting closer to the 50+ that Dick Muir made during the season last year.

The changes are, Martin Bezuidenhout in at Hoooker in the place of Bandise Maku, Pat Cilliers back at Tighthead for Jacobie Adriaanse, Franco van der Merwe back at Lock in the place of David de Villiers, Lionel Mapoe back at Wing in the place of Michael Killian, who moves to Fullback in the place of Jaco Taute. On the bench just Kockott and Jantjies stay the same.

The Lions are certainly targeting this match for a win, against a Chiefs team that is much weaker than last year, but I've given up hope for this year so I thing the Chiefs will take this one by 7+

The full team is:
15 Michael Killian, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Doppies La Grange (captain), 11 Deon van Rensburg, 10 Burton Francis, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Warren Whitely, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Kevin Buys, 18 David de Villiers, 19 Josh Strauss, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Jaco Taute


 
Lions lose to Stormers at home
April 18, 2011 - Coach John Mitchell made eight changes to the side to play the Stormers at Ellis Park on Saturday, but this knee-jerk response was not enough to prevent another loss for the Lions, as they went down 19-33.

This brings the total number of changes that the coach has made during the season to 25, and his win-ratio in Super Rugby has now dropped to 11.1%, quite shocking when compared to even the 28% of former coach, Eugene Eloff.

The coach is now claiming that he is proud of the team, but this is hogwash, in the beginning of the season we were told that we won't settle for losing, and that is precisely what we are doing when we are proud of a 14 point loss. Notice how empty Ellis Park was on Saturday, the supporters want results and not empty talk.

The full team that played against the Stormers was:
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Michael Killian, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Doppies La Grange (captain), 11 Deon van Rensburg, 10 Burton Francis, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Warren Whitely, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 David de Villiers, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Patric Cilliers, 18 Franco van der Merwe, 19 Dries van Schalkwyk, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Alwyn Hollenbach


 
Lions change three for Sharks clash
April 8, 2011 - Coach John Mitchell made three changes to the side to play the Sharks in Durban on Saturday. Michael Killian was injured in the match against the Reds and is replaced by James Kamana, who is back after serving a three-match suspension for a spear-tackle. According to Mitchell, Kamana spent the three weeks off working on his fitness, and will be ready to take on the Sharks.

The other two changes are in the forwards, where Derick Minnie replaces Cobus Grobbelaar, and George Earle in for David Bulbring. Lock David de Villiers is also on the bench, showing that the Lions are aware of the fact that they are a bit short on the Lock position.

For those people keeping score, the total changes for the season now stands at seventeen. I think this will be a close match, the Sharks have lost their last three matches after a flying start in the competition, and the Lions also managed to beat them with a high score in the pre-season match in Cape Town, so it's not certain that the Sharks will win. I give this one to them by less than 7.

The full team is:
15. James Kamana, 14. Lionel Mapoe, 13. Waylon Murray, 12. Doppies la Grange(c), 11. Deon van Rensburg, 10. Andre Pretorius, 9. Jano Vermaak, 8. Warren Whiteley, 7. Josh Strauss, 6. Derick Minnie, 5. Franco van der Merwe, 4. George Earle, 3. Pat Cilliers, 2. Bandise Maku, 1. JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16. Edgar Marutlulle, 17. Jacobie Adriaanse, 18. Michael Rhodes, 19. David de Villiers, 20. Rory Kockott, 21. Elton Jantjies, 22. Jaco Taute.


 
Lions captain axed
March 31, 2011 - In the biggest surprise move since taking over as Lions coach, John Mitchell announced that Franco van der Merwe was axed as Lions captain and will be replaced by Doppies la Grange as new leader of the team.

I'm not close enough to the team to know what the heck is going on, but a captain hardly ever gets replaced in the middle of a season, so this is a big surprise from the Lions. One can only speculate that there must have been a fallout between Coach and Captain, so it will be interesting to see the mood of the team on Saturday. I've heard rumours that the mood in the camp is not really great at this stage.

Apart from the captaincy the coach made only two other changes, namely Andre Pretorius in at Flyhalf for Elton Jantjies, and Joshua Strauss in at Blindside Flanker for Derick Minnie.

For those people keeping score, the total changes for the season now stands at fourteen. The Reds are class and I see us going down by about 20 in this one.

The full team is:
15. Michael Killian, 14. Lionel Mapoe, 13. Waylon Murray, 12. Doppies la Grange(c), 11. Deon van Rensburg, 10. Andre Pretorius, 9. Jano Vermaak, 8. Warren Whiteley, 7. Josh Strauss, 6. Cobus Grobbelaar, 5. Franco van der Merwe, 4. David Bulbring, 3. Pat Cilliers, 2. Bandise Maku, 1. JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16. Edgar Marutlulle, 17. Jacobie Adriaanse, 18. Michael Rhodes, 19. Derick Minnie, 20. Rory Kockott, 21. Elton Jantjies, 22. Jaco Taute.


 
Mitchell shows panic and changes eight
March 24, 2011 - After being fairly conservative with his changes in the Super 15 season up to now, coach John Mitchell decided to make no fewer than eight changes to the side that plays the Bulls at Loftus on Saturday. This brings the number of changes the coach has made during the season to fourteen.

Michael Killian moves from Left Wing to Fullback, replacing Jaco Taute. Waylon Murray moves from Inside Centre to Outside Centre, in the place of Jannie Boshoff, while Doppies la Grange is back at Inside Centre. Deon van Rensburg takes the place of Killian at Left Wing. Jano Vermaak is back at Scrumhalf, replacing Rory Kockott. Derick Minnie moves from Openside Flanker to Blindside Flanker, while Cobus Grobbelaar takes his place at Openside. David Bullbring replaces Wikus van Heerden at Lock.

There are a number of changes in the replacements as well, with Edgar Marutlulle and Jacobie Adriaanse set to make their Super 15 debut for the Lions, while Andre Pretorius also makes a return on the bench.

I'm wondering if this number of changes might have a negative impact on the team's performance on Saturday, and with the Bulls having lost their last two matches, I think this match will go their way by 10+

The full team is:
15. Michael Killian, 14. Lionel Mapoe, 13. Waylon Murray, 12. Doppies la Grange, 11. Deon van Rensburg, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Jano Vermaak, 8. Warren Whiteley, 7. Derick Minnie, 6. Cobus Grobbelaar, 5. Franco van der Merwe (c), 4. David Bulbring, 3. Pat Cilliers, 2. Bandise Maku, 1. JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16. Edgar Marutlulle, 17. Jacobie Adriaanse, 18. Michael Rhodes, 19. Josh Strauss, 20. Rory Kockott, 21. Andre Pretorius, 22. Jaco Taute.


 
Lions change three for Force clash
March 18, 2011 - The Lions made three changes to the side that plays the Force at Ellis Park on Saturday. James Kamana was suspended for a tip tackle and will be out of action for three weeks, so Jaco Taute is back at Fullback. Doppies la Grange injured his ankle in the win against the Cheetahs, and though the injury is not that serious, coach John Mitchell did not want to risk him in this match, so Waylon Murray moves to Inside Centre, with Jannie Boshoff coming in at Outside Centre. This brings the number of changes coach John Mitchell has made during the season to six.

Jano Vermaak is also back on the bench after recovering from his slight concussion, and Deon van Rensburg is also on the bench to cover Wing and Centre.

This is one of the four matches that I said the Lions could target for a win pre-season, but in all honesty, I think we are going to miss Doppies la Grange in the midfield, so I am predicting a close win for the visiting team, by four points.

The full team is:
15. Jaco Taute, 14. Lionel Mapoe, 13. Jannie Boshoff, 12. Waylon Murray, 11. Michael Killian, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Rory Kockott, 8. Warren Whiteley, 7. Josh Strauss, 6. Derick Minnie, 5. Franco van der Merwe (c), 4. Wikus van Heerden, 3. Pat Cilliers, 2. Bandise Maku, 1. JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16. Martin Bezuidenhout, 17. Kevin Buys, 18. Michael Rhodes, 19. Cobus Grobbelaar, 20. Jano Vermaak, 21. Burton Francis, 22. Deon van Rensburg.


 
At last: a win!
March 14, 2011 - Long suffering Lions supporters were rewarded by a win against the Cheetahs this Saturday, this after having to wait almost two years and 18 matches since the last time the Lions managed to win a Super Rugby match in May 2009.

The Lions beat bottom of the log Cheetahs 25-20 in Bloemfontein, scoring two tries to one. The Lions didn't have it all their way in the match, as they were still trailing 20-19 with just ten minutes to go in, but then Elton Jantjies kicked two penalties in the last nine minutes to steal the match from the Cheetahs.

The win ends a 17 match losing streak by the Lions, certainly one of that records that is going to be difficult to pass on to another side. This weekend the Lions play the Force, another one of the four matches that I thought we could target for a win in the beginning of the season.


 
Lions change two for Cheetahs clash
March 11, 2011 - The Lions made two changes to the side that plays the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday. James Kamana comes in for Jaco Taute at Fullback while Rory Kockott replaces Jano Vermaak at Scrumhalf. This brings the number of changes coach John Mitchell has made during the season to only 3, which proves at this early stage that he doesn't believe in chop and change like the previous Super 14 coach.

It's a bit unclear why Taute was moved to the bench, as he was one of the Lions stars in the first three matches, but Kamana is also a very deceptive runner, so if it's an open running game, he will make an impact. He might be a bit vulnarable under the high ball. Jano Vermaak suffered slight concussion against the Bluess, so it makes sense for Kockott to start, and he will also be able to provide backup as goal kicker if Jantjies struggles again.

This is going to be a very close match, the Cheetahs seem to be a bogey side for the Lions, and at home they have to be favourites to win this one, I give it to them by three points.

The full team is:
15. James Kamana, 14. Lionel Mapoe, 13. Waylon Murray, 12. Doppies la Grange, 11. Michael Killian, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Rory Kockott, 8. Warren Whiteley, 7. Josh Strauss, 6. Derick Minnie, 5. Franco van der Merwe (c), 4. Wikus van Heerden, 3. Pat Cilliers, 2. Bandise Maku, 1. JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16. Martin Bezuidenhout, 17. Kevin Buys, 18. Michael Rhodes, 19. Cobus Grobbelaar, 20. Michael Bondesio, 21. Burton Francis, 22. Jaco Taute.


 
Lions change one for Blues clash
March 2, 2011 - The Lions made one change to the side that narrowly lost to the Stormers last weekend, announcing that Wikus van Heerden will replace George Earl at lock. Dries van Schalkwyk takes the place of Van Heerden on the bench, which means that there won't be any cover for the Lions at lock, a slightly dangerous ploy that could backfire if Franco or Wikus get injured in the match.

Franco and Wikus are both also loose-forwards, which means that the Lions have five loosies in the match 22, probably something that's never happened before. It highlights one of the shortcomings that we identified at the beginning of the season, namely that we probably should have bought a lock or two instead of all the backs, it doesn't help to buy world class backs if you don't have the forwards to supply them with quality ball!

Talking of quality ball, it's time for Jano Vermaak to stop this two or three steps he takes before passing the ball to the backline, it's something we haven't seen in his game before, and it's one of the things a Scrumhalf should never do, as you are putting your own backline under pressure.

The Lions will no doubt try and use the altitude as an ally in this match, so expect a high paced match with the Blues probably trying to slow the pace down throughout. I think the Blues are a class side, and they will be able to see off the Lions, winning this match by 10+

The full team is:
15. Jaco Taute, 14. Lionel Mapoe, 13. Waylon Murray, 12. Doppies la Grange, 11. Michael Killian, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Jano Vermaak, 8. Warren Whiteley, 7. Josh Strauss, 6. Derick Minnie, 5. Franco van der Merwe (c), 4. Wikus van Heerden, 3. Pat Cilliers, 2. Bandise Maku, 1. JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16. Martin Bezuidenhout, 17. Kevin Buys, 18. Dries van Schalkwyk, 19. Cobus Grobbelaar, 20. Rory Kockott, 21. Burton Francis, 22. James Kamana.


 
So near and yet so far
February 28, 2011 - The Lions came within a whisker to beat the Stormers on Saturday, but in the end the experience of the Stormers counted and they pulled off an amazing fightback to snatch the match from the Lions with a late try by Pieter Louw. The Stormers eventually won 19-16, after leading 9-8 at the break.

With 16 minutes to go the Lions were still leading 16-9, and an upset looked on the cards, but then the Stormers pulled closer with a penalty and then a try and conversion at the end to pull off the comeback win.

Jaco Taute was named man of the match, and it says a lot that a player from the losing side won the accolade. Elton Jantjies had another off day with the boot, missing three kicks at goal, and my suggestion is that it is perhaps time to let one of Burton Francis, Rory Kockott or Andre Pretorius take over the goal-kicking until Jantjies finds his range again. Last year in the Currie Cup he hardly ever missed a kick, so it's hopefully just a temporary slump he's hit.

On Friday the Lions play the Blues, and again it's going to be a very tough match and could easily be another loss for the home side.


 
No changes to Lions for Stormers clash
February 25, 2011 - Coach John Mitchell showed his faith in the players that started against the Bulls last Saturday when he named an unchanged line-up on Thursday for the match against the Stormers this weekend.

Jaco Taute was on the receiving end of a Dewald Potgieter high tackle early in the match that forced him to leave the field, and his replacement, James Kamana, had another excellent game, while Martin Bezuidenhout also made an impact when he replaced Bandise Maku from the bench, but Mitchell decided to stick with continuity and retain the starting XV, which is a good thing for the confidence of the players. I think the Lions should try and keep the ball in hand more and kick less posession away, like they did in the second half against the Bulls, while Jano Vermaak must also concentrate on getting the ball quicker to the backline, running 2 or 3 steps with it before you pass puts pressure on your backline.

The Lions lost 15-0 to the Stormers in a pre-season warm-up match, and hopefully they've worked out how to penetrate the good Stormers defence since then. The Stormers played and lost in the final last year, and playing at home one would expect them to win this match, but the Lions have also shown that they won't roll over and play dead this year, so the Stormers will have to work for the victory. I give it to the Stormers by 8+

The full team is:
15. Jaco Taute, 14. Lionel Mapoe, 13. Waylon Murray, 12. Doppies la Grange, 11. Michael Killian, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Jano Vermaak, 8. Warren Whiteley, 7. Josh Strauss, 6. Derick Minnie, 5. Franco van der Merwe (c), 4. George Earle, 3. Pat Cilliers, 2. Bandise Maku, 1. JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16. Martin Bezuidenhout, 17. Kevin Buys, 18. Wikus van Heerden, 19. Cobus Grobbelaar, 20. Rory Kockott, 21. Burton Francis, 22. James Kamana.


 
Lions wake up too late
February 20, 2011 - The Lions lost their opening match in the 2011 Super 15 against the Bulls, the defending champions, on Saturday at Ellis Park, but they will feel that it was a match that they could have won if they woke up a bit earlier during the match.

The Bulls quickly sprinted to an 18-0 lead before the Lions managed their first try by Waylon Murray, and then another two penalties by Morne Steyn made the halftime score 24-5. In the second half the Lions played much better rugby, and they scored two more tries while keeping the Bulls scoreless, to make the final score 24-20 for the Bulls.

Martin Bezuidenhout made a huge impact when he replaced Bandise Maku, while James Kamana also had several good runs with the ball when he replaced Jaco Taute. The moment of the match though was a spectacular try by Gerhard van den Heever, when he caught a Jantjies chip on his own 10 meter line and ran in a 60 meter try under the poles.

The Lions will have to learn very quickly that you have to treasure the ball, and stop the senseless kicking game that merely gives possession away and give the opponents the opportunity to attack. I was surprised that there were only four points in the game, I thought the Bulls would get an easy victory, so perhaps if the Lions can limit the mistakes going forward they could still get some wins more than the four that I predict for the season.


 
Lions name side for Super 15 opener
February 18, 2011 - The Lions named their match 22 for their Super 15 opener against the Bulls on Thursday, and as expected, there were no surprises. Three of the players that the Lions acquired after the Currie Cup season will make their Lions debut, namely Lionel Mapoe, Pat Cilliers and Bandise Maku. Another interesting fact is that only six of the starting XV played in the last Super 14 match of the Lions against the Cheetahs in May 2010, a match that the Lions lost by 59-10. However, 11 of the players started in the last Currie Cup match that the Lions played and won against the Sharks in September 2010.

The Lions will also take heart from the fact that their bench looks quite experienced, with Wikus van Heerden, Cobus Grobbelaar and Rory Kockott to call on, as well as the exciting Kiwi, James Kamana. Although I'm a Lions supporter, this is going to be a tough encounter against the defending champions, and I expect the Bulls to win by about 10 points.

The full team is:
15. Jaco Taute, 14. Lionel Mapoe, 13. Waylon Murray, 12. Doppies la Grange, 11. Michael Killian, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Jano Vermaak, 8. Warren Whiteley, 7. Josh Strauss, 6. Derick Minnie, 5. Franco van der Merwe (c), 4. George Earle, 3. Pat Cilliers, 2. Bandise Maku, 1. JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16. Martin Bezuidenhout, 17. Kevin Buys, 18. Wikus van Heerden, 19. Cobus Grobbelaar, 20. Rory Kockott, 21. Burton Francis, 22. James Kamana.


 
Lions send second stringers to EP
February 11, 2011 - The Lions decided to send their second stringers to face the Kings in Port Elizabeth in their last warm-up match for the Super 15. None of the 24 players selected for Friday nights match seem to have the inside lane for a starting place in the Super 15, but a good performance might secure a place in the squad. The match kicks off at 19:00.

The players not involved in the match will take a break for three days before they start preparing for the first match of the season against the Bulls, which takes place at Ellis Park next Saturday.

The full team is:
15. Marius Delport, 14. Tonderai Chavhanga, 13. Jannie Boshoff, 12. Joubert Engelbrecht, 11. Dusty Noble, 10. Hein Cronje, 9. JP Joubert, 8. Robert Kruger, 7. Michael Rhodes, 6. Jaco Kriel, 5. David Bulbring (capt.), 4. Johan Snyman, 3. Ross Geldenhuys, 2. Edgar Marutlulle, 1. Wayne Swart.
Replacements: Thurston Zimri, Caylib Oosthuizen, Jonathan Mokuena, Renaldo Bothma, Vian van der Watt, Maritz Hoffman, Ruan Dreyer, Ruan Venter, Dale Sabbagh.


 
Big win for Lions over Tucuman
February 9, 2011 - The Lions had no trouble in running up a huge score against Tucuman at Ellis Park on Wednesday, beating them 82-19 after leading 40-9 at the break.

It's questionable if coach John Mitchell will be able to take much from this game, as the opposition was quite weak, but James Kamana stood out at Fullback, he joined the line with almost every ball and had a number of good runs, and managed to score one try. Franco van der Merwe had a monster game at Lock, stealing two or three opposition line-outs and taking all his ball except for one in the match. When the replacements came on with 20 minutes to go, Michael Rhodes stood out as well as Jaco Taute.

Scorers:
Lions: Tries by Dries van Schalkwyk(2), James Kamana, Joshua Strauss(2), Michael Killian(2), Waylon Murray, Jano Vermaak, Derick Minnie, Doppies La Grange, Lionel Mapoe. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (8), Burton Francis (3)
Tucuman: Try Francisca Granata. Conversion: Esequiel Faralle Penalties : Faralle (4)


 
Lions name side for Tucuman clash
February 9, 2011 - The Lions named their side that will face the Argentinean club champions, Tucuman, in a pre-season match at Ellis Park on Wednesday. The most significant change is the return of Elton Jantjies, who will feature in his first start for the Lions this season.

Bar a couple of positions, this looks like close to the strongest side that coach John Mitchell could have picked, so it looks like the coach is starting to settle on who he thinks his starting XV for the Super 15 will be, although it is a very long season with at least 3 matches more than last year in the group stages, so there will be more rotation needed as well.

The full team is:
15. James Kamana, 14. Lionel Mapoe, 13. Waylon Murray, 12. Doppies la Grange, 11. Michael Killian, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Jano Vermaak, 8. Dries van Schalkwyk, 7. Joshua Strauss, 6. Derick Minnie, 5. Franco van der Merwe (capt.), 4. George Earle, 3. Pat Cilliers, 2. Bandise Maku, 1. JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: Martin Bezuidenhout, Kevin Buys, Wikus van Heerden, Cobus Grobbelaar, Rory Kockott, Burton Francis, Jaco Taute, David Bulbring, Michael Rhodes, Jannie Boshoff.


 
Lions name side for Sharks clash
January 31, 2011 - The Lions named the side that will face the Sharks in a pre-season match at Newlands on Tuesday. It shows seven changes from the starting XV that lost 15-0 against the Stormers on Friday night.

Jaco Taute moves back to Fullback, while Michael Killian moves to Wing from Fullback, replacing Lionel Mapoe. Tonderai Chavhanga starts on the Right Wing in the place of Deon van Rensburg, who moves to Inside Centre. Jano Vermaak replaces Rory Kockott at Scrumhalf, Pat Cilliers starts at Tighthead prop in the place of Kevin Buys, while Martin Bezuidenhout starts at Hooker in the place of Bandise Maku.

The full team is:
15. Jaco Taute, 14. Tonderai Chavhanga, 13. Waylon Murray, 12. Deon van Rensburg, 11. Michael Killian, 10. Andre Pretorius, 9. Jano Vermaak, 8. Warren Whiteley, 7. Joshua Strauss, 6. Derick Minnie, 5. George Earle, 4. Franco van der Merwe (capt.), 3. Pat Cilliers, 2. Martin Bezuidenhout, 1. JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: Bandise Maku, Ross Geldenhuys, Wikus van Heerden, Cobus Grobbelaar, Rory Kockott, Jannie Boshoff, Burton Francis, Edgar Maruthlulle, Ross Geldenhuys, Caylib Oosthuizen, David Bulbring, Dries van Schalkwyk, Joubert Engelbrecht, James Kamana/Lionel Mapoe.


 
Stormers down the Lions
January 28, 2011 - The Stormers beat the Lions 15-0 in their pre-season match at Newlands on Friday evening, after leading 5-0 at half time.

The Stormers scored three tries by Jean de Villiers shortly after the start of the match, Schalk Burger just after half time and Danie Poolman after the hooter. None of the tries were converted, and Andre Pretorius also missed a penalty for the Lions just before half time.

Both teams looked rusty in their first outing for the season and the match was riddled with mistakes from both sides, with the Lions missing a few try-scoring opportunities through bad handling. The Lions were also penalised heavily by referee Jonathan Kaplan in the scrums, and Bandise Maku struggled to find his jumpers in the line-outs.

The next match in the Neo Africa series will be between the Lions and Sharks on Tuesday night at the same venue.


 
Lions Squad for Neo Africa Tri-Series named
January 26, 2011 - The Lions named a 36-man squad on Wednesday that will take part in the Neo Africa Tri-Series in Cape Town.

The squad will travel down to Cape Town on Wednesday and then face the Stormers on Friday and the Sharks next Tuesday.

The squad is:
Jacobie Adriaanse, Martin Bezuidenhout, Michael Bondesio, Jannie Boshoff, David Bulbring, Kevin Buys, Tonderai Chavhanga, Patrick Cilliers, Burton Francis, Ross Geldenhuys, Rory Kockott, David de Villiers, George Earle, Joubert Engelbrecht, Cobus Grobbelaar, JC Janse van Rensburg, Elton Jantjies, James Kamana, Michael Killian, Doppies la Grange, Bandise Maku, Lionel Mapoe, Edgar Marutlulle, Derick Minnie, Waylon Murray, Andre Pretorius, Michael Rhodes, Joshua Strauss, Wayne Swart, Jaco Taute, Franco van der Merwe, Wikus van Heerden, Deon van Rensburg, Dries van Schalkwyk, Jano Vermaak and Warren Whiteley.


 
MTN named as Lions sponsor
January 20, 2011 - MTN was named as the new main sponsor of the Lions for the next three years on Thursday.

Since its launch in 1994, MTN has placed a strong focus on connecting and developing communities, and sport is a cornerstone of this development. As the leader of mobile operations in developing markets, the company has always sought to invest in areas that celebrate the diversity of people, with the opportunity of unifying those communities using a common thread – in this case, rugby.

“This initial three-year MTN contract will enable the union to continue attracting some of the best local rugby talent. We will also be in a position to bring back a number of South African foreign-based players to play for a professional and transformed team, and make them available for Springbok selection. “With MTN on board as our partners at GLRU, I am confident that we will achieve and even surpass our initial goals,” concluded Gumede.

During the launch event, the new players’ kit featuring the MTN logo was revealed and shown off by some of the Lions team members.


 
Franco named as Super 15 captain
January 18, 2011 - Franco van der Merwe was named as the Lions captain for the 2011 Super 15 on Tuesday, with Doppies la Grange named as the vice captain.

Franco was the captain in the 2010 Currie Cup season after regular captain Cobus Grobbelaar was injured and missed the entire Currie Cup, and having been quite successful, coach John Mitchell had no problem to keep him as captain. The problem with other contenders is that they might not be certain of a place in the starting XV, so it was actually a no-brainer that Franco would be named captain. He is also a very popular captain, with almost 74% of visitors at our forum selecting him as their first choice captain, with Andre Pretorius getting 15% of the votes in second place.

Franco made his debut for the Lions in the 2006 season, when he played in the last 6 Currie Cup matches that year. Currently he has 63 caps for the Lions, 12 as captain, and he has scored 8 tries for 40 points.

“I’m very proud to be the captain for the new season,” said Van der Merwe. “It is a big honour and the relationship between me and coach John Mitchell has just gone from strength to strength from last year’s Currie Cup and it feels nice to have his backing and that of the management.” It was also good to have the support of the players, he said.

The Lions open their Super 15 campaign on Saturday 19 February when they host the Bulls at Ellis Park.


 
Andre Pretorius spotted at Lions training
January 5, 2011 - Flyhalf Andre Pretorius was spotted at the Lions training camp for the 2011 Super 15, putting an end to the speculation that he has decided to come back to the Lions after a brief spell of a year with the Western Force and the Sharks.

Pretorius left at the same time as coach Eugene Eloff, and he would have represented the Western Force in the 2010 Super 14, but was injured in a pre-season match and missed the whole Super 14 because of it. He then joined the Sharks for the 2010 Currie Cup season and certainly looked over the injury in the few matches that he played for them.

Because of his injury problems, we can assume that he would be used on a play for pay basis, but he would certainly be a strong contender to make the Flyhalf berth his for this Super 15 season.

The Lions will name their Super 15 squad later this week.   


 
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