Although Sibusiso Sangweni has enormous shoes to fill, the Lions loose-forward is certain that he will be well-equipped and ready to withstand the Bulls’ assault this weekend.
Ruhan Straeuli, Francke Horn, and Sangweni will start against the Pretoria-based club on Saturday at Emirates Airline Park (kick-off 4.05pm). There will be more interest in how the trio performs without former colleague Vincent Tshituka.
The 21-year-old participated in 14 games of the United Rugby Championship (URC) last season, so when the new one begins this weekend, he won’t be inexperienced when it comes to the demands of the competition.
At the Lions training session on Thursday at Johannesburg Stadium, Sangweni acknowledged, “Last season, we were wading in unfamiliar waters.” The first URC was there.
“Last season, I had the good fortune to play in more than ten games, so I can now draw on that knowledge. It is more important to offer tranquilly to the team than it is to necessary be frenzied.
“With reference to the current task, we also need to have tunnel vision. We need to make an effort to maintain the team’s composure.
The Bulls will choose their matchday 23 on Friday, and it’s probable that they’ll field a group of players, particularly at flank and eighthman, who are really good and dangerous. The previous URC season’s man, Marcell Coetzee, was among the league’s top performers; Cyle Brink, a former Lion, is a dangerous foe.
In the north, Marco Jansen van Vuuren has also rejoined the group. While Elrigh Louw will be on the Springboks’ bench for their Rugby Championship match against Argentina on Saturday, he won’t be eligible for selection.
Sangweni predicted that the drawn battlelines would result in a dogfight.
“They have good loose-forwards there, but I think our team has improved throughout the off-season as well. We have assembled the greatest loose trio we are capable of, therefore we must perform at the top of our ability.
We’re going to be seen as underdogs at this point, he said, but that’s when you can shock people. Because nobody expects us to surprise them on the weekend, we don’t mind.