Lions coach: Physicality is Alberts' X-factor
Cape Town - Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen is delighted to have Springbok loose forward Willem Alberts fit for their South African Super Rugby derby against the Stormers at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Alberts, who has joined the Lions from Stade Francais in France, was not expected to be included for the clash as he was continuing his recovery from a bicep injury.
The Lions announced earlier in the week that Alberts would not be available to face the Stormers, but Van Rooyen on Thursday surprised by including him on the bench for the match.
"Willem had a little bit of scar tissue that was hurting from last week, but the medical team and Willem managed to get rid of that on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday… he came through the session well so it’s nice for us to select him," Van Rooyen told reporters at Ellis Park on Thursday.
Van Rooyen added that Alberts, 35, had been working hard for the past few weeks since joining the Lions.
And the coach has no doubt that Alberts will make an impact when utilised off the bench on Saturday.
"I think his X-factor is his physicality, his got a little of a calmer head, he's played a lot of these games (South African derbies). He will bring some real energy for us as well," Van Rooyen said.
The burly loose-forward, known as the "Bone Collector", played 43 Tests for the Springboks between 2010 and 2016.
He was on the Lions' books between 2005 and 2009, before moving to the Sharks where be played until 2015 before moving to Stade Francais.
Elsewhere, there is only one change to the Lions starting XV that beat the Reds 27-20 last week, with former Junior Springbok Manuel Rass starting at outside in place of Duncan Matthews.
Van Rooyen said the change was a rotational one.
Elton Jantjies continues as captain while there is still no place in the squad for Springbok scrumhalf Ross Cronje, who continues his comeback from injury by being included in a Lions XV that will take on a Blue Bulls XV as the curtain raiser before the Super Rugby match.
Kick-off is at 15:05 on Saturday.
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Tyrone Green, 13 Manuel Rass, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Morne van den Berg, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Pieter Jansen, 1 Dylan Smith
Substitutes: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Hacjivah Dayimani, 22 Dillon Smit, 23 Wandisile Simelane
15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Johan du Toit, 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff (captain)
Substitutes: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Cobus Wiese, 21 Ernst van Rhyn, 22 Paul de Wet, 23 Jean-Luc du Plessis
- Compiled by Herman Mostert