JOHANNESBURG – Swys de Bruin has some tough decisions to make this week: does he stick with the rookies, or does he bring back a host of Springboks who sat out the weekend’s match against the Jaguares?
De Bruin’s gamble to pick several former SA U20 stars in the place of some seasoned men, including national players, for Saturday’s Super Rugby match against the Jaguares at Ellis Park paid off handsomely as the Lions won 47-39 to get their season back on track.
But as good as the rookies were on Saturday (among them centres Wandisile Simelane and Franco Naude, flank Vincent Tshituka, locks Ruan Vermaak and Rhyno Herbst, back-up prop Nathan McBeth and replacement flyhalf Gianni Lombard) the Lions conceded four late tries to give up the bonus point. A bit more experience on the bench might have prevented that from happening, and it is something that irked De Bruin.
“I am so thankful for the win and so glad for the youngsters who came through so well,” De Bruin said.
“We were up against a team with 22 internationals in it, so what we did was phenomenal. To score seven tries against those men and win is very pleasing,” said De Bruin. “It was a massive test for the youngsters, going up against top guys, and they showed they could do it.
“But I’m not happy that we gave up the bonus point at the end. We also let it slip against the Stormers (two weeks ago), and that is very disappointing. We had built the innings and were on track to record one of the great wins but like a batsman who goes out in the 90s, we let them back in.”
De Bruin will possibly go with most of the rookies again this week when Australia’s best team, the Rebels, visit Joburg, but there’s also a chance he’ll bring back a good few of the more experienced men, even if they only play off the bench.
Among those returning from injury are prop Jacobie Adriaanse and lock Marvin Orie.