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Rugby | Vodacom Super Rugby

Courtnall Skosan © Gallo Images

Skosan back for Lions



Emirates Lions and Springbok winger Courtnall Skosan returns for his first Vodacom Super Rugby match of the season when he runs out again for his side in their final regular season match against the Vodacom Bulls at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday.

Skosan, who suffered a knee injury in the pre-season training, returned to action in the SuperSport series but is raring to go again to help his side look for the victory that will confirm them as the top team in the South African conference for the third year running.

This means that the other Springbok winger, Aphiwe Dyantyi will be on the bench for the game.

Lions coach Swys de Bruin raised some eyebrows by deciding on Nic Groom over Springbok halfback Ross Cronje, but said that the move was tactical, and was dependent on the weather and the opposition involved.

The Lions are now very close to being at full strength again after a string of injuries has hampered the side over the past few years.

“We are very close (to full strength), we are very blessed to have the right guys at the right time. I think the only guy missing here from the team at the start of the year, or last year November is Jaco Kriel. The rest of the guys have recovered and we are very pleased about that,” De Bruin said.

While bracketing Hacjivah Dayimani and Marnus Schoeman for tactical reasons – “The one is good in the air, the other good on the ground” – De Bruin said it was the same situation at halfback.

“For exactly the same reason, and we have worked on the rotation system from the word go. They are two very good scrumhalves and every game that Nic has played he has done well, and so has Ross since he has been back from his injury. It is rotation and a bit tactical as well,” he added.

MENTAL TOUGHNESS

The decision was also made not to include Dylan Smith at loosehead with the prop experiencing a bit of discomfort from a calf strain.

“We just made the call now. We thought we were going to wait but we aren’t going to wait. We will rather rest him for one more week. It’s just a calf, its nothing serious.”

De Bruin said while there wasn’t much physically a coach could do at this stage of the season, the bye gave his side the opportunity to work on some mental toughness.

“Brilliant. I think we could go into camp again and it gave Warren (Whiteley) a chance to work with the guys and Jannie Putter (sports psychologist) had a great session with the players. We had a chance to get all our ducks in a row and almost set new goals for the last stretch,” he said.

“It’s much more tactical now, planning and that. But you can always work. You know I said it the other day – who is that golfer now? He has three coaches. The better they get the more you coach them and we often think they are good now. If Wazza (Warren Whiteley) is the Springbok No 8, he is still coachable. I talk to him and ask him how he feels you know. You still have to coach.”

De Bruin said he was aware of all the permutations with a win seeing the Lions end second and a loss dropping them to seventh, but didn’t bring that focus to the team.

“Personally I do think a lot of it and we do strategise and look at permutations but we try not to take it to the team. As we said we want to focus on the game, and not so much on the result but rather on the process,” he added.

Emirates Lions: Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Nic Groom; Warren Whiteley (captain), Cyle Brink, Kwagga Smith, Franco Mostert, Marvin Orie, Ruan Dreyer, Malcolm Marx, Jacques van Rooyen.

Replacements: Corne Fourie, Johannes Jonker, Jacobie Adriaanse, Lourens Erasmus, Marnus Schoeman/Hacjivah Dayimani, Ross Cronje, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Howard Mnisi/Shaun Reynolds.



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