Jannie du Plessis provides much-needed experience for Lions against Lions
They may be fielding a largely inexperienced squad against the touring British & Irish Lions but in Jannie du Plessis the Ellis Park-based Lions will have a player who knows what it’s like to face the marauders in red.
Du Plessis packed down at tight-head for the Sharks when the British & Irish Lions last toured here in 2009.
That match ended in a resounding 39-3 win for the visitors and the prospect of Du Plessis tasting victory this time round aren’t great.
In Du Plessis‚ flank Daniel Kriel and tight-head Ruan Dreyer the home side have just three Springboks in their squad that will be finalised on Thursday.
Another Springbok‚ Courtnall Skosan‚ is a notable omission on the wing in a squad tasked with putting the British & Irish Lions through their paces in their tour opener.
Skosan‚ who made all of his 12 Test appearances in 2017‚ was left out of the squad‚ which means Jamba Ulengo and Rabz Maxwane are likely to start against the tourists.
Kriel‚ who has been injury-plagued‚ looks likely to face players he would have come up against when he was on the playing staff of Gloucester between 2018 and 2020.
While the 38-year-old Du Plessis is on one end of the experience spectrum‚ the Lions have some youngsters eager to showcase their talent in a rarefied atmosphere.
Fast-emerging flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse‚ loose forward MJ Pelser‚ lock Reinhard Nothnagel and scrumhalf Morne van den Berg are just some of the youngsters hoping to prove a point.
History‚ however‚ heavily favours the visitors who have dominated this matchup since their initial skirmish in 1891.
The hosts have not beaten the composite side since 1968 when they won 14-6 at Ellis Park.
On subsequent tours the tourists won 23-15 in 1974‚ 32-12 in 1980‚ 20-14 in 1997 and 74-10 in 2009.
Lions squad to face British and Irish Lions to be selected from:
PJ Botha‚ Ruan Dreyer‚ Jannie du Plessis‚ Jordan Hendrikse‚ Francke Horn‚ Daniel Kriel‚ Jaco Kriel‚ Rabs Maxwane‚ Nathan McBeth‚ Reinhard Nothnagel‚ Burger Odendaal‚ MJ Pelser‚ Mannie Rass‚ Carlu Sadie‚ Sibusiso Sangweni‚ Ruben Schoeman‚ S’bu Sithole‚ Dillon Smit‚ Ruhan Straeuli‚ Emmanuel Tshituka‚ Vincent Tshituka‚ Jamba Ulengo‚ Morne van den Berg‚ EW Viljoen‚ Jaco Visagie‚ Fred Zeilinga.