Sibahle Maxwane and Burger Odendaal are among four players who will make their first official Lions starts against the Sharks in Durban on Friday.
The Lions will travel to Durban in the opening fixture of South Africa’s domestic Super Rugby tournament, Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked.
Four players who joined the Lions during lockdown in July – Odendaal, Maxwane, EW Viljoen and hooker Jaco Visagie – will all be making their first official starts for the side after being involved in their pre-season.
Viljoen will start at fullback alongside Maxwane and Jamba Ulengo in the back three, while Odendaal is partnered by Dan Kriel in midfield, with Wandisile Simelane named on the bench.
Visagie is joined by loosehead Sti Sithole and tighthead Carlu Sadie in the Lions front row.
Former Lions captain Jaco Kriel, who returned from Gloucester earlier this year, will make his official comeback to the team after overcoming an ankle injury.
On the 10-man bench, another former Vodacom Bulls player – tighthead prop Wiehahn Herbst – is also set to debut for the team, while another tighthead Ruan Dreyer will make his comeback after returning from England.
Four members of the starting lineup, Sadie, Marvin Orie, Vincent Tshituka and Elton Jantjies, were in action for the Springboks over the weekend in the Green and Gold matchup in Cape Town with four more, Dylan Smith, Gianni Lombard, Simelane and Dreyer, on the bench.
Lions – 15 EW Viljoen; 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Burger Odendaal, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Sibahle Maxwane; 10 Elton Jantjies (c), 9 Dillon Smit; 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Sti Sithole.
Subs: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 MJ Pelser, 21 Hacjivah Dayimani, 22 Morné van den Berg, 23 Gianni Lombard, 24 Wandisile Simelane, 25 Ruan Dreyer.
Photo: Gallo Images