A number of frontline players who missed out when the Lions played a set of warm-up matches against the Leoaprds and PUK last week, return to action as coach Johan Ackermann names a strong side to face the Southern Kings.
The likes of Andries Coetzee, Lionel Mapoe, Michael Bondesio, Warren Whiteley and Franco van der Merwe will all be in action, while there’s also a welcome return for yet another former Sharks junior prop, as Julian Redelinghuys starts in the number 3 jersey. Pumas players Stefan Watermeyer (inside centre) and Rudi Matthee (lock) both appear to be in strong contention for important roles with the Lions when the final Super Rugby squad is announced early next month.
A third Puma, JW Jonker, has been included on the bench, as has another former Sharks age-group player, flyhalf Willie du Plessis, who will share the pivot duties with Marnitz Boshoff whilst Elton Jantjies continues to recover from off-season surgery.
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Chrysander Botha, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Rudi Matthee, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Corne Fourie, 19 Willie Britz, 20 Warwick Tecklenburg, 21 Francois de Klerk, 22 Willie du Plessis, 23 JW Jonker.
Meanwhile, a second-string Lions selection to face the Blue Bulls in Polokwane has also been named. A number of Lions stalwarts, including Deon van Rensburg, Stokkies Hanekom and Alwyn Hollenbach, find themselves somewhat surprisingly named in this side. Former Sharks junior halfbacks Guy and Ross Cronje will team up once more, with the former, somewhat surprisingly, named as captain. It was scrumhalf Ross who wore the armband when the pair guided a strong Sharks under 19 side to an age-group trophy back in 2008.
Golden Lions: 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Nicolaas Hanekom, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Vainon Willis, 10 Guy Cronje (captain), 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Stephan de Witt, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Jacobus Roux, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Charles Marais.
Replacements – from: Mark Pretorius, David Kounga, Pieter Vorster, MB Lusaseni, Lourens Erasmus, Lambert Groenewald, Jano Venter, Ricky Schroeder, Kobus de Kock, Deon Helberg, Brendon Hewitt.