Malcolm Marx of Lions is tackled by Stephan Lewies of Sharks. Picture: GALLO
Malcolm Marx of Lions is tackled by Stephan Lewies of Sharks. Picture: GALLO

After being mauled in the Jaguares line-out drives last week‚ the Lions have opted for bulk and experience in their squad to take on the Rebels on Saturday.

They have restored the Springbok lock pairing of Stephan Lewies and Marvin Orie‚ while redeploying last week’s second row starters Rhyno Herbst and Ruan Vermaak to the substitutes’ bench for their Super Rugby clash at Ellis Park.

Forwards coach Philip Lemmer conceded his pack back-pedalled far too much last week‚ but he believes they have addressed the glitches by changing personnel and getting up to speed again with some maul nitty-gritty.

“Marvin was injured last week but his leadership is key. He can stop the driving maul which was a concern for us last week. Stopping the maul is one of his strengths.

“He also adds more weight in the scrums‚” said Lemmer.

The coach is confident his forwards will stand their ground and that fractious maul defence is a thing of the past.

“It was small detail that the guys missed‚” he said about the maul defence last week. “But that is unfortunately how it is when you don’t get it right in the first second. You’re immediately in trouble.

“It is something we worked on this week. We’d rather let that happen in a game we win‚” said Lemmer.

It is not just in the forwards where the Lions have had to make amendments. Tyrone Green‚ less than two weeks after turning 21‚ will make his first start in Super Rugby at fullback.

“Well done to Tyrone Green. He has been working really hard and deserves his opportunity. He’s very exciting.

“This takes nothing away from Boeboes [Andries Coetzee]‚ who has been fantastic. This is just our rotational policy‚” said skills coach Neil de Bruin.

Unlike previous seasons, the Lions have preferred mixing and matching in their selections but they argue it is a necessary exercise in the marathon competition.

“The key in Super Rugby is rotation‚” reminded Ross Cronjé.

“Everybody is on the same page and everybody knows what the gameplan is and what we need to do to win. It is a long season. If you want to keep the guys fresh and hungry then rotation is 100% key.”

Cronjé will have to have his wits about him on Saturday. He has the vastly experienced Wallaby Will Genia as direct opponent‚ while the capricious Quade Cooper can also inflict some damage if the mood grabs him at first receiver.

“I don’t think it will affect them. I think they are a class pairing‚” said Cronjé about the fact that Genia and Cooper this week attended a Wallaby camp before flying out.

“They have history. When the Reds were playing their best rugby‚ the two of them were at their best as well. They manage the game well. They can show a bit of magic but we can’t focus on two players.”

Lions squad: Tyrone Green; Ruan Combrinck‚ Wandisile Simelane‚ Franco Naude‚ Courtnall Skosan; Elton Jantjies‚ Ross Cronjé; Kwagga Smith‚ Vincent Tshituka‚ Marnus Schoeman; Stephan Lewies‚ Marvin Orie; Carlu Sadie‚ Malcolm Marx‚ Dylan Smith;

Replacements: Jan-Henning Campher‚ Sti Sithole‚ Frans van Wyk‚ Rhyno Herbst‚ Ruan Vermaak; Gianni Lombard‚ Lionel Mapoe‚ Andries Coetzee.