Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen recalled three Springboks into his starting team for their Super Rugby Unlocked match against the Pumas at Ellis Park.
The coach has also brought Tiaan Swanepoel into his starting XV at fullback while two of the internationals brought in are among the forwards and another at halfback. Swanepoel, who made his Lions debut against the Jaguares in a Super Rugby match in February, replaces injured Gianni Lombard.
The match in Johannesburg kicks off at 16:30 on Saturday afternoon and will be broadcast live on the SuperSport Grandstand and Rugby channels.
Lions bring in Springbok trio
Willem Alberts replaces fellow Springbok Marvin Orie in the second row of the Lions pack while Ruan Dreyer comes in for Sti Sithole up front. Van Rooyen makes a double change to the locks with Reinhard Nothnagel coming in to partner to Alberts, while Ruben Schoeman is rested as part of the franchise’s rotation policy.
Springbok scrumhalf Ross Cronje returns to the Lions starting XV in place of young livewire halfback Morne van den Berg.
The pride of Johannesburg rugby will also start the match with a number of fresh faces on the substitutes bench.
Jan-Henning Campher replaces PJ Botha at hooker, Wiehahn Herbst comes in for Nathan McBeth at prop, Hacjivah Dayimani takes over from Marnus Schoeman as the extra loose forward and Andre Warner has been named as back-up scrumhalf.
Utility back Divan Rossouw is also back in the mix and slots into the vacancy left by Swanepoel’s promotion.
The Lions still have a mathematical chance of winning the tournament but would require a Bulls loss to the Pumas in the final round and other results to go their way in this weekend and the next having lost their opening games and seen their third called off.
Lions: 15 Tiaan Swanepoel, 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 MJ Pelser, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Ruan Dreyer. Replacements: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Hacjivah Dayimani, 21 André Warner, 22 Dan Kriel, 23 Divan Rossouw.
Match information – Lions vs Pumas
Date: Saturday, 14 November
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron, Morne Ferreira
Television Match Official: Willie Vos
TV: SuperSport Rugby and Grandstand