Currie Cup: Butch to lead Lions on Saturday

World Cup winning Springbok veteran Butch James will lead the Lions against their oldest rivals, the Bull Bulls, at Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg.

Butch, who is due to retire from all forms of rugby at the end of this season, will captain the defending champions in their last league game of the season.

Having already qualified for the post season, Lions coach Johan Ackermann has decided to rest the majority of his first string players with the aim of having them firing on all cylinders come next week’s semi-finals. The only returning Boks that will be included in the squad are CJ van der Linde and Pat Cilliers, both props allowing regular captain JC Janse van Rensburg a well-deserved break.

In all there are 8 changes, however some are positional.

Cilliers comes in for Jacobie Adriaanse (rested but benched), Ruan Botha (injury) is replaced by Paul Willemse and Franco van der Merwe drops to the bench to allow him a bit of a break. Jaco Kriel comes in for Cobus Grobblar (rested), Derick Minnie drops to the bench to minimise his playing time and Willie Britz replaces Warren Whitely at no.8.

In the backs Anthony Volmink comes in on the wing, pushing Ruan Combrinck to fullback and Andries Coetzee (rested) falls out of the match day 22.

Returning Boks Elton Janties and Lionel Mapoe will start from the bench while Jaco Taute will be rested completely.

The Lions host the Blue Bulls on Saturday, KO 19:10 CAT (18:10 BST)

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Lions: 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Deon van Rensburg, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Andrew James (captain), 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 CJ van der Linde.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Franco van der Merwe, 19 Warren Whiteley, 20 Whestley Moolman, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Lionel Mapoe.

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Currie Cup: Lambie to start at fly half

After an international season of sitting on the Springbok bench, Pat Lambie is chomping at the bit to get onto that field and start playing. He is the only returning springbok that Coach John Plumtree has included in his starting line up to face the Griquas on Friday.

As the Sharks have already secured a semi-final spot, Plumtree has taken the opportunity to rest his Springboks by starting them from the bench. This is a luxury that no other coach has not been given to his rivals and may be extremely important come the play offs.

Lambie replaces Meyer Bosman and the explosive young scrumhalf Cobus Reinach takes over from Charl McLeod, both of whom drop to the bench.

In the pack, Kyle Cooper comes in for Pieter Dixon who has broken his arm and Craig Burden returns from Bok duty to provide cover from the bench.

The Sharks take on the Griquas in Durban on Friday, KO 19:10 CAT (18:10 BST)

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Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Keegan Daniel (captain), 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Jandre Marais, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Peet Marais, 19 Marcell Coetzee, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Lwazi Mvovo.

Currie Cup: Injuries force Griquas shuffle

The Griquas needed to make three changes ahead of their make or break match against the Sharks on Firday in Durban.

JP Nel has been removed from the squad due to a finger dislocation sustained during the 37-21 victory over the Golden Lions last weekend. Nel underwent surgery last week and will not return this season.

The other changes are, Veteran Walter Venter will start in the midfield in Durban pushing Richard Lawson to the bench and back up lose forward Wesley Wilkins returns from injury to replace Jaco Nepgen who drops out of the squad.

It is all or nothing for the Griquas this weekend with a victory putting them into the Currie Cup play offs for the first time in over ten years.

Griquas travel to Durban to take on the Sharks on Friday, KO 19:10 CAT (18:10 BST)

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Griquas: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Jannie Boshoff, 13 Jean Stemmet, 12 Walter Venter, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Leon Karemaker, 7 Justin Downey, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Rynard Landman, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Ryno Barnes (captain), 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dobson, 17 Ivann Espag, 18 Edwin Hewitt, 19 Wesley Wilkins, 20 Jacques Coetzee, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Richard Lawson.

Currie Cup: Western Province ring the changes ahead of must win match

Western Province have made 8 changes, including electing to start all 6 returning springboks, for their must win match in Cape Town on Saturday.

In the back line, Jean de Villiers returns and takes over the captaincy (from Deon Fourie) and pushes dynamic youngster Marcel Brache onto the bench. Brian Habana and Juan de Jongh take up their traditional roles at wing and outside center respectively.

In the forwards, Duane Vermeulen slots in at no.8, Eben Etzebeth and Andries Bekker bring the Springbok lock pairing home to WP and Tiaan “the wrecking ball” Liebenberg replaces Siyabonga Ntubeni at hooker. Don Armand shifts from Lock to blindside flank in place of injured Tyrone Holmes.

The returning Boks make WP one of the most exciting teams in the competition (on paper) and with only one player yet to win a Super Rugby cap (Fly half Demetri Catrakilis) they are also one of the most experienced sided this year.

Unbelievably Lock Eben Etzebeth makes his Currie Cup debut for WP on Saturday after being capped 13 times by the Stormers in Super Rugby and featuring in 8 tests for the Springboks.

Good news comes in the form of returning Gio Aplon who has recovered sufficiently from an ankle injury and is included in the squad.

Western Province host the Cheetahs at Newlands on Saturday, KO 17:05 CAT (16:05 BST)

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Western Province: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Don Armand, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Brok Harris, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Marcel Brache, 22 Gio Aplon.