LIONS ROARING TO BITE SHARKS

BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 06, Meyer Bosman of the Cheetahs stopped by Stephen Ferris and James Hook of the British & Irish Lions during the British and Irish Lions Tour match between Cheetahs and British and Irish Lions from Vodacom Park on June 06, 2009 in Bloemfontein, South Africa.Photo by Duif du Toit / Gallo Images
BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 06, Meyer Bosman of the Cheetahs stopped by Stephen Ferris and James Hook of the British & Irish Lions during the British and Irish Lions Tour match between Cheetahs and British and Irish Lions from Vodacom Park on June 06, 2009 in Bloemfontein, South Africa.Photo by Duif du Toit / Gallo Images

THE British and Irish Lions have set a goal of remaining unbeaten ahead of the first Test against world champions South Africa on June 20 here.

THE British and Irish Lions have set a goal of remaining unbeaten ahead of the first Test against world champions South Africa on June 20 here.

But before then the team coached by Scot Ian McGeechan have to face the Natal Sharks, Western Province and a well blended Southern Kings side.

Next up on the schedule is a date here today against a Sharks side that were in the running for the Super 14 semi-finals until the last weekend of group action when a home loss to the Northern Bulls cost them a place.

While the Sharks remain a South African rugby powerhouse, the side that will do battle with the Lions has been severely depleted by national call-ups.

Wings Odwa Ndungane and JP Pietersen, centre Adrian Jacobs, fly-half Ruan Pienaar, utility back Frans Steyn, number eight Ryan Kankowski, prop "Beast" Mtawarira, prop-cum-hooker John Smit and hooker Bismarck du Plessis are absent because of Springbok duty.

However, no less than four Boks will start against the tourists, fullback Stefan Terblanche, lock Johann Muller and props Jannie du Plessis and Deon Carstens, the only player in the side who is part of the current national squad.

Having got the better of a Royal XV in Rustenburg, the Golden Lions in Johannesburg and Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, the touring team face a stern test from the Sharks.

While McGeechan says he is some way off knowing his strongest side, it is looking like fullback Lee Byrne, centres Brian O'Driscoll and Jamie Roberts and scrum-half Mike Phillips are set to make the first Test starting line-up.

Byrne will start for the third time in four matches today, as will Roberts, Shane Williams, captain Paul O'Connell and loose forward David Wallace. - Sapa-AFP

X