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Oosthuizen headlines new-look Lions squad for France trip

SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen has named the 26 players who will do duty for him in France for his sides’ first Challenge Cup outing of the 2023/24 season.

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The Johannesburg side will face Perpignan in their Round One fixture on Sunday.

After a 49-24 win over the Dragons in the United Rugby Championship, the Lions team boss stressed the need to make use of his current squad, meaning implementing a rotation policy to tackle the demands of playing in two topflight international competitions.

As a result, a number of key players will remain behind in South Africa. In fact, none of the players that started in the win against the Dragons will be heading to France.

Some of those key players include Sanele Nohamba, Morne van den Berg, Marius, Louw, Henco van Wyk, Francke Horne and Emmanuel Tshituka.

Meanwhile, a familiar face will be back in the Lions jersey in the form of lock Etienne Oosthuizen.

Oosthuizen previously represented the Brumbies, Sharks and Lyon. He recently made his return to the rugby field in a match for a Lions XV side against the Cheetahs last month.

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“Rotation was always part of the plan for this trip to France,” said Van Rooyen.

“We have the opportunity to tap into the squad we currently have for the next two weeks of Challenge Cup fixtures both away and home.

“To get the performance we want and to potentially win both games [Perpignan and Newcastle Falcons], we will rely on the players at our disposal as we have huge confidence in using the broader squad.

“We’ve prepared and trained accordingly for the past two to three weeks, so we’ll be ready to go.”

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Jaco Visagie will lead the team in France.

Lions 26-man touring squad to Perpignan:

Backs: Andries Coetzee, Erich Cronje, Zander du Plessis, Boldwin Hansen, Jordan Hendrikse, Rynhardt Jonker, Gianni Lombard, Rabz Maxwane, Johan Mulder, Stean Pienaar, Nico Steyn.

Forwards: Morne Brandon, Izan Esterhuizen, Corne Fourie, Travis Gordon, Morgan Naude, Etienne Oosthuizen, Heiko Pohlmann, JC Pretorius, Raynard Roets, Sibusiso Sangweni, Hanru Sirgel, Ruan Smith, Ruhan Straeuli, Conrad van Vuuren, Jaco Visagie (captain).

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