Sanele continues in his new role as Lions host Zebre

rugby23 November 2023 14:16| © SuperSport
By:Gavin Rich
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Sanele Nohamba © Gallo Images

Sanele Nohamba is starting to look more and more like a challenger to be one of the three Springbok flyhalves at the 2027 Rugby World Cup and less like the stop-gap most would have thought he was when he first moved from scrumhalf to pivot for the Emirates Lions.

After following up his man of the match effort in the No 10 jersey the week before against Scarlets with another solid performance as the Lions lost narrowly to Ulster at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast last week, Nohamaba’s appearances at flyhalf are starting to become less of a subject of discussion and more what is expected.

The former Sharks scrumhalf, who moved to Johannesburg in 2022 when he looked like he had become surplus to requirements at the union where he had made his name and played his age-group rugby, set up the Lions’ first try in Belfast with a well-targeted cross kick to Lions wing Richard Kriel.

He was also again good off the tee and authoritative in general play so it is no surprise that he retains the No 10 jersey for Saturday’s visit to Emirates Airlines Park by Zebre.

There are a couple of changes to the side that did so well for most of the match against Ulster, with JP Smith coming in at loosehead prop, Ruan Delport coming in to the second row in what looks like a rotational switch with the veteran Willem Alberts, and Ruan Venter coming in to join Emmanuel Tshituka and Francke Horn in the back row.

Kriel retains his place on the right wing as he faces down the team he was a popular member of last season before he decided to move back to South Africa.

The Lions have only won once this season but they’ve been within seven points in all the games they have lost and are facing a side that, along with themselves, is arguably the most improved in the competition.

You wouldn’t normally give Zebre much hope of beating the Lions, particularly not on the Highveld, but they’ve managed to get results from their last two games, with the drought breaking win over the Hollywoodbets Sharks two weeks ago being followed up with a draw against Cardiff.

Both those results, though, were achieved in Parma and the Lions will be hoping to employ a high tempo approach to take the visitors out of their comfort zone as they start a tour that will be concluded with a clash with the DHL Stormers in Stellenbosch next week.

Emirates Lions team: Quan Horn, Richard Kriel, Henco Venter, Marius Louw (captain), Edwill van der Merwe, Sanele Nohamba, Morne van den Berg, Francke Horn, Ruan Venter, Emmanuel Tshituka, Ruben Schoeman, Ruan Delport, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, PJ Botha, JP Smith.

Replacements: Jaco Visagie, Corne Fourie, Ruan Smith, Willem Alberts, Hanru Sirgel, JC Pretorius, Jordan Hendrikse, Rabs Maxwane.