Lions

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Free State CheetahsXerox Golden LionsFS Cheetahs (26) 55 / 17 (0) Golden Lions (Final Score)

The Toyota Free State Cheetahs and Xerox Golden Lions did battle in the Currie Cup Premier Division 2016 Semi-Final at

Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein at 15:00 SA Time (13:00 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.

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Warren Whiteley

Warren Whiteley

Inspirational Emirates Lions captain Warren Whiteley has recovered from the calf strain that kept him out of the Super Rugby semifinal last week, and returns to lead the team in the final against the Hurricanes in Wellington New Zealand on Saturday.

Ruan Ackermann drops to the bench, and is joined by Lourens Erasmus and Ross Cronjé.

Herewith the Lions’ media statement.

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Emirates Lions(Updated with BNZ Crusaders playing squad)

The Emirates Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has named an extended squad of 25 players for the quarterfinal clash against the Crusaders, with the big surprise being the possible return to action of inspirational captain Warren Whiteley.

Whiteley, who was originally diagnosed with an injury which would keep him out of Rugby for 6 weeks, and hence miss the entire Super Rugby play-offs, is to undergo a fitness test on Thursday.

Undoubtedly the Lions management, players and all of their supporters will be hoping that he is declared fit to play.

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Emirates LionsEmirates Lions head coach, Johan Ackermann has named his team to play the Argentinian side the Jaguars at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday Afternoon.

The team sees the coach sticking to his rotation policy with a total of six changes to the side that so convincingly beat the Blues last week, with exciting lock Lourens Erasmus getting a start in the second row.

Herewith the media announcement from the Emirates Lions.

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Emirates LionsEmirates Lions wing Ruan Combrink has certainly raised some eyebrows during the 1st half of Super Rugby 2016.

The hard running winger is undoubtedly one of the form players in the African conferences, and it has to be asked in certain circles whether the new National coach has taken note of his strong performances.

Herewith a short biography of the player as issued by the Emirates Lions.

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Emirates LionsEmirates Lions Head Coach Johan Ackermann has made a number of changes to the side who lost to the Highlanders in Dunedin during Round 3 of Super Rugby 2016, for the clash against the Toyota Cheetahs at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday.

In an enforced change due to the suspension of blindside flank Warwick Tecklenburg, the young prospect Ruan Ackermann gets his 1st run-on opportunity in the loose forwards.

Also returning to the starting lineup is Lionel Mapoe who missed the last game to be at the birth of his 1st child, as well as Andries Coetzee at fullback, together with Dylan Smith and Malcolm Marx in the front row.

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Super Rugby 2016 trophyThe Jaguares bounced back from last week’s disappointment to beat a young Emirates Lions team 49 / 28 in an 11-try feast in their Super Rugby pre-season outing Johannesburg on Friday.

Following their 14 / 29 loss to the DHL Stormers last week, the Argentinean newcomers to Super Rugby showed the class that 20-odd internationals can bring to a team – running the Lions ragged – outscoring them by 7 tries to 4 at the Wits Stadium.

Some sublime inter-passing and grand angled running by the visitors that expose some major flaws in the Lions’ defensive set-up.

The Emirates Lions – consisting mainly of their back-up squad –  played decent only in patches.

Their frontline selections were rested before they start their Super Rugby campaign with a historic match against Japan’s newcomers, the Sunwolves, in Tokyo next week.

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Super RugbyJust how the revised Super Rugby format will go down with the South African rugby public is unclear, but we won’t have to wait long to find out.

The new-look tournament gets underway in less than a month, with the Blues and the Highlanders kicking things off in Auckland on Friday 26 February 2016.

From a South African perspective, the road ahead looks a tough one and if local bookmakers are to be believed there is no standout side from within these borders that looks set to challenge for the title.

Outside of the tournament changes, the majority of the South African franchises have also undergone major alterations with only 2wo sides – the Cell C Sharks and Emirates Lions – heading into 2016 with the same coaches that did the business in 2015.

The Southern Kings, obviously, were not a part of the 2015 competition but they also have a new man at the helm.

Here, we look at the 6 men tasked with bringing success to their respective franchises:

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Warren Whiteley

Warren Whiteley

Warren Whiteley will be captaining the Emirates Lions for the 3rd consecutive Super Rugby season when he again takes the reigns for 2016.

The experienced Whiteley welcomed the responsibility of the captaincy bestowed upon him. “It is a big honour to again lead the Lions in the Super Rugby competition. I take the task very seriously while I also enjoy making decisions on and off the field.

“While I think nothing has changed it becomes easier. Also because we’ve got such a great core of leaders around me,” Whitely said.

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Emirates LionsAll the Lions’ Currie Cup heroes except for Kwagga Smith, who is contracted for National Sevens duty, have been retained for Super Rugby while 9 other stalwarts have strengthened the squad.

Flanker Derick Minnie returns after a long injury lay-off and winger Ruan Combrink and centre Harold Vorster have also been added to the Super Rugby group after missing some Currie Cup action due to injury.

Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies, centre Lionel Mapoe and hooker Akker van der Merwe, as well as Warrick Tecklenburg will return from overseas duty.

The new squad members are former Steval Pumas scrumhalf Faf de Klerk, Leopards No 9 Dillon Smit, Leopards lock Robert Kruger and Pumas prop Corné Fourie, who are all full-blooded Lions now.

Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk has signed a contract with the Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU) which will see him based permanently in Johannesburg. De Klerk, 24, was a shining light for the Emirates Lions during this year’s Super Rugby competition but because he was still contracted to the Steval Pumas, he had to return to Nelspruit for the Currie Cup season. However, the GLRU on Wednesday confirmed that the scrumhalf has signed a deal which means he will also be available for Currie Cup duty.

Steval Pumas fullback JW Bell is the only new face who hasn’t donned the Lions jersey yet.

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