JOHANNESBURG – For now it is Lions first and Springboks second for Swys de Bruin.
This Super Rugby season is just one round old, but the Lions have already opted to give star wing Aphiwe Dyantyi – a World Cup certainty later this year if he stays fit – a bit of a breather for this weekend’s trip to Newlands for a clash with the Stormers.
Dantyi will play off the bench, with Ruan Combrinck coming into the Lions starting team.
“It’s a World Cup year so we have to make sure we rotate players (through the season),” said De Bruin yesterday ahead of his team’s trip to face the Stormers tomorrow.
“We won our game last weekend, so there was no need really to make changes; no one had a bad game. But, we also need to support Rassie (Erasmus). That, however, does not mean Erasmus will dictate to the Super Rugby coaches who should be picked and who shouldn’t. Rassie won’t force it on anyone, but we’ll continuously rotate to help him."
"I must just say, we’ll definitely first help ourselves. We’re behind Rassie (and the World Cup planning), but we’re 100 percent about the Lions and our effort first.
“At the back of our heads though we know there is a bigger picture. And Rassie knows he has two-and-a-half months after the last Super Rugby game before the World Cup starts to work with the Boks … it’s a long time.”
The other realistic World Cup contenders in the Lions team at this stage – Malcolm Marx, Marvin Orie, Warren Whiteley and Elton Jantjies – will all play in Cape Town.
De Bruin said Combrinck would bring something different to the Lions team this week.
“He’s got a big right boot, where the other two are left-footed (Jantjies and Andries Coetzee), he’s a Bok, too, and is comfortable at fullback and wing; he brings an extra dimension to the team – he’s Ruan Combrinck, and it’s nice he’s back in the team.”
The Lions have also opted for two so-called fetcher flanks to partner Whiteley in a new-look backrow this week, with Hacjivah Dayimani dropping down to the bench. De Bruin said Marnus Schoeman and Kwagga Smith – who returns after being injured last week – playing together was the right move for this week’s match.
“They both played in the starting team against the Waratahs last year (when the Lions won in Sydney) so it’s not a new thing,” said De Bruin. “We’re expecting the Stormers to come hard at us at the breakdown … To play with two number sixes at this stage is not a bad idea.”
The Lions have furthermore opted to fill their bench with speedy backs, including the dynamic Gianni Lombard, Sylvian Mahuza and Dyantyi.
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