Lions lose skipper Burger Odendaal to Covid protocols ahead of Edinburgh duel

Burger Odendaal. (Photo by Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images)

Burger Odendaal. (Photo by Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images)

  • The Lions have lost skipper Burger Odendaal for the clash with Edinburgh at Ellis Park on Saturday.
  • Odendaal and hooker Jaco Visagie were exposed to a Covid-19 case, ruling them out of the game.
  • Edinburgh beat the Sharks at a drenched Ellis Park last week, while the Lions smashed Ospreys 45-15.

The Lions will be without regular captain and centre Burger Odendaal for their duel with Scottish side Edinburgh at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Odendaal and hooker Jaco Visagie were close contacts to a Covid case this week, thereby missing out on the United Rugby Championship (URC) clash this weekend.

Manuel Rass and PJ Botha replace Odendaal and Visagie, respectively, for the game.

Burger’s absence also means the Johannesburg-based side will be led by lock Reinhard Nothnagel.

Lions team:

15 Quan Horn, 14 Rabz Maxwane, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Manuel Rass, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Jordan Hendrikse, 9 Morne van den Berg, 8 Emmanuel Tshituka, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Francke Horn, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel (captain), 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 PJ Botha, 1 JP Smith

Substitutes: 16 Morne Brandon, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 19 Ruan Venter, 20 Sibusiso Sangweni, 21 Andre Warner, 22 Henco van Wyk, 23 Tiaan Swanepoel

“Jaco and Burger were close contacts earlier in the week, so Covid protocols mean they needed to be away from the team to mitigate risk. They will be assessed on Monday next week,” said Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen.

Van Rooyen also named loosehead prop JP Smith to start in place of regular starter Sti Sithole who has been rested after a series of matches in the competition.

The Lions mentor said Smith was rewarded for great performances across all competitions.

“JP has impressed us in both the Currie Cup as well as stints in the URC, so we are eager to see what he can offer us from minute one,” said Van Rooyen.

The Lions are looking to continue their positive string of results against Northern Hemisphere opposition, following wins against Cardiff, Munster and Ospreys in recent weeks.

Van Rooyen, however, cautioned against taking the foot off the pedal, especially against a side who recorded a big win last weekend in the wet in Durban.

“Edinburgh were successful last week, so they might fancy their chances up here. Likewise, we’ve had a string of positive results in recent weeks, which has certainly motivated us to improve on our performances as the tournament progresses.”

Kick-off is at 16:05

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