Mziwakhe Nkosi poses for a photograph during the SA Schools Headshots at Paul Roos Gymnasium Clubhouse in Stellenbosch in this August 4 2019 fie photo. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/CARL FOURIE
Mziwakhe Nkosi poses for a photograph during the SA Schools Headshots at Paul Roos Gymnasium Clubhouse in Stellenbosch in this August 4 2019 fie photo. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/CARL FOURIE

Mziwakhe Nkosi has been handed the reins of the Lions in the series of preparation matches‚ or Franchise Cup‚ due to start this weekend.

He will be in the hot seat when the Lions kick off their campaign against the Pumas at Ellis Park on Friday‚ while regular coach Ivan van Rooyen will oversee proceedings as head coach of the Lions Rugby Company.

Nkosi‚ a stalwart in the Lions’ coaching group, is also a former SA Schools coach who operated for four-and-a-half years in that setup. Nkosi who steered the Lions U21 side to the final of the national tournament last year will have former Springbok prop Wessel Roux as assistant.

The Lions, who will be captained by lock Reinhard Nothnagel on Friday, have placed the accent on youth in the warm-up matches. Tiaan Swanepoel‚ a regular at fullback in the most recent Currie Cup, is at flyhalf. He will be partnered by Morné van den Berg.

With Swanepoel operating at flyhalf EW Viljoen gets a start at fullback‚ while another regular fullback‚ Divan Rossouw, is on the left wing.

On their extended bench the Lions have included former Maties flank Ruhan Straeuli. Straeuli is the son of Lions company CEO Rudolf Straeuli who represented the Springboks in the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

Also on the bench is scrumhalf Dillon Smit who missed a large chunk of last season due to injury.

The Lions have announced contract extensions for Nothnagel‚ Swanepoel as well as prop Sti Sithole who has extended for two years‚ while Swanepoel and Nothnagel both extended for three years.

Lions squad: EW Viljoen; Prince Nkabinde‚ Manuel Rass‚ James Mollentze‚ Divan Rossouw; Tiaan Swanepoel‚ Morné van den Berg; Francke Horn‚ Roelof Smit‚ Marnus Schoeman; Reinhard Nothnagel (captain)‚ Emmanuel Tshituka; Wiehahn Herbst‚ PJ Botha‚ Nathan McBeth. Replacements: Dameon Venter‚ Banele Mthenjane‚ Jannie du Plessis‚ Ruhan Straeuli‚ MJ Pelser‚ Dillon Smit‚ Luke Rossouw‚ Ngia Selengbe‚ Ruan Dreyer‚ Izan Esterhuizen‚ Sibusiso Sangweni.

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