Lions U21 head coach Mziwakhe Nkosi has been handed the reins to take charge of the senior team for their preparation series matches.
Nkosi, who last year coached the Lions U21 team to the provincial final, will be assisted by Wessel Roux, while senior head coach Ivan van Rooyen will oversee proceedings.
23-year-old lock lock Reinhard Nothnagel will captain a young Lions team for their opening preparation match against the Pumas in Johannesburg on Friday.
This weekend’s team features the return of EW Viljoen at fullback, after he recovered from the injury he suffered during Super Rugby Unlocked. Viljoen is joined in the back three by Divan Rossouw and U21 wing Prince Nkabinde, who will make his first appearance in a senior Lions team.
Meanwhile, Morne van den Berg will start alongside Tiaan Swanepoel in the halfback combination, while former Junior Springboks James Mollentze and Manni Rass are in midfield.
In the pack, Springbok flank Roelof Smit starts alongside U21 eighthman Francke Horn and Marnus Schoeman in the loose trio. Nothnagel is partnered by Vincent Tshituka’s younger brother, Emmanuel, in the second row.
Experienced tighthead Wiehahn Herbst starts alongside hooker PJ Botha and young loosehead prop Nathan McBeth in the front row.
Scrumhalf Dillon Smith has also recovered from injury and takes his place on the bench, which also includes Ruhan Straeuli – son of former Springbok and current Lions CEO Rudolf Straeuli.
Lions – 15 EW Viljoen, 14 Prince Nkabinde, 13 Manuel Rass, 12 James Mollentze, 11 Divan Rossouw, 10 Tiaan Swanepoel, 9 Morne van den Berg, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Roelof Smit, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel (c), 4 Emmanuel Tshituka, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 PJ Botha, 1 Nathan McBeth.
Subs: 16 Dameon Venter, 17 Banele Mthenjane, 18 Jannie du Plessis, 19 Ruhan Straeuli, 20 MJ Pelser, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Luke Rossouw, 23 Ngia Selengbe, 24 Ruan Dreyer, 25 Izan Esterhuizen, 26 Sibusiso Sangweni.
Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix