Lions

Lions lose one of the pride

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The Lions suffered a cruel blow on the eve of their opening match in the Super 14 tournament, when tighthead prop Kenny Mackenzie damaged his calf at a captain’s run on Thursday.


The Lions face one of then tournament favourites, the Waratahs, in Johannesburg on Friday.


MacKenzie, signed from the South Western Districts Eagles for the Super 14 season, tore his calf muscle and has been replaced in the starting XV by young Brian Mujati – who will now make his Super 14 debut after just two first class games.


Mujati’s place on the bench will be taken by Springbok veteran Lawrence Sephaka, who was sent back to the Lions’ Vodacom Cup team because of a shocking lack of conditioning.


Sephaka, who appeared totally disinterested in the Lions’ pre-season games, have been accused of being in a comfort zone – like a player knowing he is virtually assured of a World Cup place.


It is thus not surprising that Lions coach Eugene Eloff has opted to risk young Mujati against the highly rated Waratahs, knowing he will at least get some commitment from a hungry young Lion.


The Zimbabwean-born Mujati, who joined the Lions at the beginning of the 2006 Currie Cup season, played just two games last year.


Despite a lack of experience at professional level, he showed signs of potential, and has left little doubt in the minds of the most hardened critics that he is capable of playing rugby at a much higher level.


Lions – revised: 15 Earl Rose, 14 Louis Ludik, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Doppies la Grange, 11 Jannie Boshoff, 10 Andr’ Pretorius (captain), 9 Enrico Januarie, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Ernst Joubert, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Anton van Zyl, 4 Cobus Grobler, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Ashton Constant, 17 Lawrence Sephaka, 18 Gordon Gilfillan, 19 Franco van der Merwe, 20 Jano Vermaak 21 Louis Strydom, 22 Jaco van Schalkwyk.


Date: Friday, 2 February
Venue: Ellispark, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 19.10 (17.10 GMT)
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Keith Brown (New Zealand), Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)


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