Lions keep their fullback at flyhalf
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Lions will head to Belfast in their final tour fixture of the United Rugby Championship to face Ulster at Ravenhill Stadium on Friday.
Carlu Sadie makes a return to the starting line-up, with Reinhard Nothnagel and Sibusiso Sangweni collecting their first starting berths in the URC.
Nothnagel comes in for the injured Pieter Jansen van Vuren, while Sangweni features in what reflects a few selection rotations in the match 23.
Commenting on last week’s performance against Glasgow Warriors, Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen was upbeat ahead of his team’s fourth-round encounter.
Regular fullback EW Viljoen stays at flyhalf, despite the arrival of Fred Zeilinga in Ireland
Zeilinga arrived on Monday and only had his first full session with the team on Tuesday, hence the call was made to stay with Viljoen in the No.10 jersey.
The decision is a result of injuries to both first-choice tour flyhalves Jordan Hendrikse and Eddie Fouche.
Hendrikse fractured his right ankle during the Lions’ second-round match against Scarlets last week.
The young playmaker is expected to be out of action for at least three months.
Fouche injured his ankle in training on Thursday and has been sent for scans – with the next 48 hours important in determining the length of his lay-off.
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“There were quite a few aspects we felt we improved on in our performance against Glasgow Warriors last week, and that’s the kind of momentum we want to take into the Ulster game,” Van Rooyen said
“This is the final game of our four-week tour so naturally, we want to end it on a high,” he added.
Wilhelm van der Sluys, Emmanuel Tshituka and flyhalf Fred Zeilinga will all have an opportunity to make their tournament debuts off the substitutes bench on Friday.
Lions: 15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Manuel Rass, 12 Burger Odendaal (captain), 11 Sibahle Maxwane, 10 EW Viljoen, 9 Andre Warner, 8 Ruhan Straeuli, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Sibusiso Sangweni, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Sithembiso Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Pieter Botha, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Emmanuel Tshituka, 21 Morne van den Berg, 22 Fred Zeilinga, 23 Wandisile Simelane.
Date: Friday, October 15
Venue: Ravenhill Stadium, Belfast
Kick-off: 19.35 (20.35 SA time; 18.35 GMT)
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Robert O’Sullivan (Ireland), Dermot Blake (Ireland)
TMO: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)
— Lions (@LionsRugbyCo) October 13, 2021