Marnitz Boshoff must maintain his excellent goal-kicking form if the Lions are to beat the Highlanders in Dunedin.
Boshoff, who has a 91% success rate this season, was surprisingly named on the bench for the Lions' tour opener against the Chiefs last weekend, with Elton Jantjies making only his second start of the tournament at 10. But Chrysander Botha's 13th-minute exit saw Boshoff come on at fullback with Jantjies retaining the kicking duties. Jantjies slotted an early penalty, but missed another as well as a conversion, and has been relegated to the bench again. Boshoff has proved to be a match-winner at 10, but has struggled a bit in general play as the Lions have lost four consecutive matches. He (and many of his team-mates) needs to rediscover his best form on Saturday if they are to win their first match since 22 March.
In other changes to the Lions' starting XV, Anthony Volmink will start on the left wing and MB Lusaseni at No 4 lock.
As far as the Highlanders are concerned, flyhalf Hayden Parker, outside centre Phil Burleigh and left wing Jason Emery come into the backline. Among the forwards, Shane Christie starts at openside flank instead of John Hardie, Ged Robinson replaces Liam Coltman at hooker, while Chris King moves across to loosehead with Ma’afu Fia at tighthead.
The Lions have won just one of their last 14 away games in Super Rugby (21-20 against the Cheetahs in February) but did beat the Highlanders 26-22 in Dunedin in 2011.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Highlanders 10, Lions 6
In Dunedin: Highlanders 8, Lions 1
BOSHOFF'S STATS THAT MATTER
91 – His goal-kicking percentage in Super Rugby this season (39 out of 43)
124 – The number of points he has scored (11 conversions, 28 penalties and six drop goals), the third most in the tournament
8 – The number of games he has started at flyhalf, out of 10 (he started one at fullback and came off the bench to play fullback in the other)
Highlanders – 15 Ben Smith (c), 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Jason Emery, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (c), 7 Shane Christie, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Joe Wheeler, 3 Ma’afu Fia, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Chris King.
Subs: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Matias Diaz, 18 Kane Hames, 19 Tom Franklin, 20 TJ Ioane, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Trent Renata, 23 Gareth Evans.
Lions – 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Martin Muller, 4 MB Lusaseni, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Subs: 16. Armand van der Merwe, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Jacques van Rooyen, 19 Rudi Mathee, 20 Warwick Teckenburg, 21 Ross Croné, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 JW Jonker.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images