Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann has named a strong starting XV filled with Super Rugby experience for the match against the Blue Bulls at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Warren Whiteley, fresh from success with the Blitzboks at the Commonwealth Games, will lead the Lions in their first match as they look to regain the title they last won in 2011.
A few changes were necessary from the side that did duty for most of the Super Rugby season, with injuries and departures forcing Ackermann's hand.
Anthony Volmink (shoulder), Courtnall Skosan (fractured cheekbone), Deon van Rensburg (fractured rib), Alwyn Hollenbach (shoulder), Michael Bondesio (knee) and Julian Redelinghuys (calf) will all miss Saturday's match through injury, while Chrysander Botha has left for Ireland, with Coenie Van Wyk and JW Jonker returning to the Pumas.
In the forwards, Ruan Dreyer will get his chance in place of Redelinghuys, while Derick Minnie will start ahead of Warwick Tecklenburg.
Marnitz Boshoff will once again be tasked with marshalling the Lions backline, with an untested centre combination of Harold Verster and Stokkies Hanekom starting outside of him.
New Lions recruit, Howard Mnisi is expected to make his debut from the bench, after completing his move from Griquas.
Golden Lions – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Ruan Combrink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 MB Lusaseni, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Subs: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Willie Britz, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Ricky Schroeder, 21 Jaco van der Walt, 22 Howard Mnisi.
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