The Golden Lions might have ended the first half of the Currie Cup with a loss to Western Province, but the selection of Earl Lewis – for this weekend’s clash against the Blue Bulls – is a victory in itself.
Lewis has been named at fullback, replacing none other than Springbok tourist and Emerging Bok Earl Rose in the Lions’ No.15 jersey.
A thrilling runner, especially from broken play, Lewis is also comfortable kicking off both feet.
In short, the University of Johannesburg fullback could be just the man to rescue this ailing Lions team – a side that is rebuilding and a side that could only benefit from the Varsity Cup star’s presence.
“I’m very, very happy to have been included in the team,” Lewis told the in-site website.
“I’ve been training with the Currie Cup team this whole season and, now, to finally get my chance is a huge moment for me.”
Lewis, 22, was a standout for the SA Universities team in two matches against a Collegiate side from America earlier this month. He scored a hat-trick of tries in both matches, ripping the Americans’ defence apart with his deadly footwork and clinical running lines.
“I think the Lions coaches must’ve seen me play, or heard about my performances, in those games,” said Lewis, who is also a more than handy goal-kicker.
“After those two games [for the SA Universities team] I found myself getting closer and closer to the [Lions] matchday squads – it was a big boost for me and I knew I just had to continue doing my best at training and that my time would come.”
Well, his time has certainly come and he has declared himself “100 percent ready” as he gets set to wear the Lions No.15 shirt for the first time in a Currie Cup fixture.
“Not even in my wildest dreams would I have imagined making my debut for the Lions against the Blue Bulls in a Currie Cup match,” he admitted. “My plan was always to make the Currie Cup team this year, but I never imagined I would be chosen for a big game like this!
“But I’m really looking forward to the occasion and I’ll be going out there to do my best and in the process [hopefully] secure a regular spot in the team.”
Whilst Lewis’s obvious strength is his running game – given his Sevens background and performances in the Varsity Cup – he realises that his attacking style of play might just have to give way to a slightly more pragmatic approach come Saturday.
“There is obviously a lot at stake [on Saturday] and the Currie Cup will certainly be a step up for me,” he said.
“I have a lot of faith in my kicking game and I’m lucky being able to kick off both feet. But if I get a chance and it’s on to run, I will give it my best shot. In rugby it’s all about choosing the opportunity to strike with ball in hand or putting boot to ball when you have to.”