Butch will step up in the absence of Jantjies
FLYHALF Butch James will lead the line when the Golden Lions travel to Cape Town tomorrow to try and cement their place at the top of the Currie Cup standings against Western Province.
James, one of the stars of the Springboks' 2007 World Cup triumph, has been recalled to the starting line-up for the first time in over a month following Elton Jantjies' elevation to the Springbok bench.
Coach Johan Ackermann wasn't happy to have lost Jantjies, centre Jaco Taute and prop CJ van der Linde to the national cause at such a late stage of the Currie Cup campaign, but at least in James he has a more than able replacement.
And the 33-year-old is not simply going though the motions; he has been in good form at both Super 15 and Currie Cup level this season and will be a vital component of the Lions set-up tomorrow.
Victory with a bonus point would guarantee the Lions a semifinal place. Defeat for WP would be a big blow, with only two rounds to come after this weekend.
WP also have their problems, with wing Gio Aplon and flyhalf Gary van Aswegen both sidelined with serious ankle injuries that could keep them out for the remainder of the season.
With national call-ups and injuries, the team is far from full strength but the youngsters under Allister Coetzee's guidance keep performing well and will fancy their chances against the Joburg side.
Tonight sees the second-placed Sharks take on the Blue Bulls in Durban.
The Bulls ended a three-match losing streak against the Cheetahs last week, but to make the play-offs they will need to beat the Sharks on their own patch.
The home team have not lost at King's Park since the Chiefs beat them in the Super 15 in April and it's unlikely they will suffer a defeat against a Bulls side battling for consistency.
Sharks coach John Plumtree has shuffled his backline, moving Meyer Bosman to flyhalf with Riaan Viljoen shifting to fullback and Louis Ludik transferring to wing. SA under-20 star Paul Jordaan will start in the midfield with Tim Whitehead.
Tomorrow, Griquas and the Cheetahs clash in Bloemfontein. A loss for the Free State side would leave them rooted at the bottom of the standings, while defeat for Griquas would see them slip out of semifinal contention.
WP snapped Griquas' three-match winning streak last week but they're still better off than the Cheetahs, who have lost their past four encounters.