Ackermann has made six changes to the starting team, but two of those are because of injury, while the inclusion in the run-on side of Faf de Klerk and Howard Mnisi hardly weakens the starting team.
Also, young Cyle Brink gets an opportunity in place of openside flank Jaco Kriel.”We’re definitely not taking the Kings lightly,” said Ackermann yesterday when he named his side.
“I’ve only made changes because of injuries to Julian Redelinghuys and Malcolm Marx and rotated a few guys I thought really needed a break.”We’ve trained with the same intensity this week as we do for any game and we’re not going to take the foot off the pedal down in Port Elizabeth.
“The Lions are coming off two quality wins against the Sharks and Stormers and look to be well on their way to the play-offs, while the Kings have won just once so far.”They’re a better team than the results suggest,” said Ackermann.
“They’ve been competitive, but made a few too many errors, but they’re one of those teams that will punish you if you’re just a little off your game. Their first phases have been good and if they get the rest of their game together they can be very dangerous … we don’t want that to happen this weekend.
“We set a high standard over the last two weeks and want to maintain that. I expect the same passion and pride from the players as I saw against the Sharks and Stormers, but I know we’re in for a big game. The Kings are coming off a bye and will need no motivation against us. Deon Davids’ team talk will be an easy one.
“The big change in the Lions team is in the front row where Corne Fourie, Armand van der Merwe and Ruan Dreyer will start for the first time as a combination. Then there’s 22-year-old Brink on the flank, who’ll be tasked to keep the impressive CJ Velleman, Chris Cloete and fit-again Thembelani Bholi, of the Kings, in check.
“Cyle’s a young guy who’s grabbed his opportunity,” said Ackermann. “He’s strong with ball in hand, good on the ground and can play 6, 7 and 8. Him playing gives me an option to take Warren (Whiteley) off if the game allows and push Jaco (Kriel) into the fray.”It’s another great opportunity for Cyle to show what he’s made of … especially against two quality flankers in the Kings team.
“Young hooker Ramone Samuels will be Van der Merwe’s backup on the bench, while the experienced Jacques van Rooyen gets his first taste of Super Rugby this year, also from the bench.
Meanwhile, Davids has made nine changes to his starting team for the match, among the players coming in being Shane Gates, JP du Plessis, Schalk Oelofse, Jacobie Adriaanse, Martin Ferreira and Bholi.
The match kicks off on Saturday at 5.05pm.
Kings STARTING XV
Malcolm Jaer, Luzuko Vulindlu, Lukhanyo Am, Shane Gates, JP du Plessis, Louis Fouche, James Hall, CJ Velleman, Thembelani Bholi, Chris Cloete, Steven Sykes (capt), Schalk Oelofse, Jacobie Adriaanse, Martin Ferreira, Schalk Ferreira
Replacements: Martin Bezuidenhoudt, Tom Botha, Justin Ackerman, JC Astle, Jacques Engelbrecht, Ntando Kebe, Stefan Watermeyer, Leighton Ekstee
Lions STARTING XV
Jaco van der Walt, Ruan Combrinck, Lionel Mapoe, Howard Mnisi, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Faf de Klerk, Warren Whiteley (capt), Warwick Tecklenburg, Cyle Brink, Franco Mostert, Andries Ferreira, Ruan Dreyer, Armand van der Merwe, Corne Fourie
Replacements: Ramone Samuels, Dylan Smith, Jacques van Rooyen, Ruan Ackermann, Jaco Kriel, Ross Cronje, JW Bell, Rohan Janse van Rensburg –The Star
Original source: Lions not taking struggling Kings lightly