Rainbow Cup: Lions' big flyhalf decision
SPOTLIGHT: Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen will have to make some big decisions ahead of his team’s Rainbow Cup opener against the Bulls on Saturday.
The flyhalf position and the captaincy will surely be the focus for Van Rooyen after Elton Jantjies’ departure.
The Bok flyhalf joined Top 14 outfit, Pau, on a short-term deal until the end of the season to prepare for the upcoming British and Irish Lions series.
With the 30-year-old World Cup-winner out of the picture, there will be keen interest to see whether Van Rooyen picks Tiaan Swanepoel or Fred Zeilinga for the flyhalf spot.
Swanepoel has been used mainly as a fullback and he has impressed in that role in the Currie Cup.
The 24-year-old ended the competition among the stats leaders for points, tries and carries.
During the Preparation Series, Swanepoel was used a number of times in that No.10 role with varying degrees of success.
However, he could get better with more time in that role.
Swanepoel was no stranger to the flyhalf position before the Lions used him there as he played a lot of his junior rugby in that position.
When it comes to Zeilinga, the Lions will have a more experienced option for that key position.
The 28-year-old has been the pivot for the Sharks, Cheetahs and Canon Eagles over the years and brings a wealth of knowledge to the position. However, it seems he will also be needing a good run of games under his belt to find his form again.
Van Rooyen could also use both players in his starting backline if he decides to use Swanepoel at fullback and Zeilinga at flyhalf.
However, the Lions coach might be leaning more towards giving Swanepoel more opportunities to develop into a No.10.
Jantjies was not only the flyhalf but also the squad captain and Van Rooyen will need to decide on who is best equipped to make the big decisions on the field.
“We will have to make a final decision [on the captaincy],” van Rooyen told IOL earlier this month.
“I will sit down with the team and the senior players. There is nothing final but there are a good couple of options available, it is just for us to first decide who is going to be in what role and how we are structuring the team.”