Kriel starts as Lions reveal team for Zebre clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen has revealed his team to face Zebre in their opening United Rugby Championship clash in Italy on Friday.
In the backline, Jordan Hendrikse gets the No.10 jersey with Andre Warner coming in as his halfback partner.
Wandisile Simelane and Burger Odendaal will form a strong midfield pairing with Jamba Ulengo and Rabz Maxwane on the wings. EW Viljoen gets the No.15 jersey.
In the pack, Springbok Jaco Kriel gets the No.6 jersey after a long injury lay-off and he will be joined in the back row by Francke Horn and Vincent Tshituka.
It’s Kriel’s first appearance in the Lions’ starting XV since their 2020/2021 Currie Cup semifinal against the Bulls.
Pieter Jansen Van Vuren and Ruben Schoeman will form the second row, while the front row consists of Carlu Sadie, Jaco Visagie and Ruan Dreyer.
Commenting on his selections, Van Rooyen said: “It’s an exciting new chapter for the Lions and we are really looking forward to our first match tomorrow [Friday] against Zebre.
“The URC will test our character as a group but it’s a challenge we are up for.
“We believe the matchday-23 we’ve decided upon will be competitive on the day and hopefully establish some momentum going into the next few weeks of the tournament.”
Lions: 15 EW Viljoen, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Burger Odendaal (captain), 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Jordan Hendrikse, 9 Andre Warner, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Pieter Jansen Van Vuren, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Ruan Dreyer.
Replacements: 16 PJ Botha, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Sibusiso Sangweni, 21 Morne van den Berg, 22 Eddie Fouche, 23 Divan Rossouw.
Date: Friday, September 24
Venue: Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma
Kick-off: 18.35 (18.35 SA time; 16.35 GMT)
Referee: Chris Busby (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Riccardo Angelucci (Italy), Federico Boraso (Italy)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)