- Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen hasn’t been averse to picking most of his newcomers for local rugby’s restart but one of his easier picks has been Ruan Dreyer.
- The 30-year-old prop will be immediately back in the thick of things this weekend, undoubtedly helped by his intimate familiarity with the Lions’ systems.
- Van Rooyen is also excited by new recruit Burger Odendaal’s partnership with Wandisile Simelane.
While Lions head coach Ivan ‘Cash’ van Rooyen has shown a healthy appetite for using the newcomers to his squad for this weekend’s Superfan Saturday meeting with the Stormers, one of his easier (re-)introductions has been Ruan Dreyer.
The 30-year-old prop, who returned to Ellis Park a few months back after an injury-riddled two-year stint with Johan Ackermann at Gloucester, was a vital member of the side that reached the heady heights of three consecutive Super Rugby finals.
Much like Jaco Kriel – also back in Doornfontein since February – Dreyer is intimately familiar with the Lions’ DNA and is considered key to the franchise balancing a youthful group with value-adding experience.
“It almost feels as if we grew up with Ruan, so to speak,” said Van Rooyen.
“I was privileged enough to have worked extensively with him (during his first stint) as the trainer for the team. He’s like one of those favourite family chairs that’s back in the house after being a storage for a bit.”
Yet Dreyer’s immediate elevation into the Lions’ starting line-up isn’t merely down to “family ties”.
A man of Van Rooyen’s background wouldn’t take high performance and conditioning considerations lightly.
Dreyer is known for combining a strong scrumming game with some mobile ball-carrying ability.
Swys de Bruin, Van Rooyen’s predecessor, also previously told Sport24 that the four-cap Springbok is arguably now in his prime as front-rower.
“Ruan’s fitted in brilliantly again,” said Van Rooyen.
“His work ethic is amazing and his attitude exemplary. It was a pretty straightforward selection.”
Meanwhile, the midfield combination of Burger Odendaal and Wandisile Simelane has elicited excitement because of its complementary nature.
Odendaal, a former Bulls skipper, had been rock-solid in midfield at Loftus and provides thrust to Simelane’s skill and guile.
“Burger is a physical presence and brings a lot of experience with him,” said Van Rooyen.
“Wandi’s got great X-factor and an ability to beat defenders one-on-one. It’s going to be good to see them combining. But we’re also interested to see how Dan Kriel and Manny Rass go.
“They’re similar as a combination and were gelling before the Covid-19 break. It’s a good position to be in. We can go for a bulky combination like Burger and Dan, or go more agile and quick (with Simelane and Rass).”
Kick-off between the Lions and Stormers is at 19:00.
15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Sibahle Maxwane, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Andre Warner, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Dylan Smith
Substitutes: 16 Sti Sithole, 17 Jan-Henning Campher, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Reinhard Nothnagel, 21 MJ Pelser, 22 Francke Horn, 23 Len Massyn, 24 Dillon Smit, 25 Gianni Lombard, 26 Stean Pienaar, 27 Daniel Kriel, 28 Manuel Rass, 29 Jamba Ulengo, 30 EW Viljoen
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Leolin Zas, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Hannes Gouws, 22 Paul de Wet, 23 Tim Swiel, 24 Michal Hazner, 25 Angelo Davids, 26 Tristan Leyds