The biggest surprise was the call from coach Johan Ackermann to leave hooker and Springbok tourist Robbie Coetzee out of the match-day squad.
“Robbie is not injured,” said Ackermann on Thursday morning in a teleconference call from Auckland where they are currently based.
“It forms part of our rotation system for this game and next week in our final tour game against the Highlanders we’ll rotate again,” he said.
Harold Vorster will partner Lionel Mapoe in midfield with Howard Mnisi moving to the bench and among the forwards the old KES pairing of hooker Malcolm Marx and prop Dylan Smith gets a start in the red and white jersey.
“Malcolm has been part of our system for a while now, while Dylan gets his opportunity after starting from the bench last weekend against the Sunwolves,” he said.
Hooker Akker van der Merwe will wear the number 16 jumper and next to him on the bench is prop Corné Fourie while loose forward Fabian Booysen will make his Super Rugby debut should he get a run.
Wednesday was the Lions first day of training after only arriving from Tokyo at 3pm on Tuesday, but Ackermann said they are not complaining.
“The travelling has been exhausting but there’s not anything we can do about it, but credit to the guys as they have been very positive and eager to do well this weekend, there’s an excellent spirit in the camp,” he said.
“However we were not happy with how we performed against the Sunwolves despite the win, our discipline has to improve while our one-on-one tackles were also not up to standard,” he added.
*The red and white Lions jersey will sport the blue and white colours of the Els for Autism Foundation in its numbers on the back in support of golfer Ernie Els, international ambassador of the Lions.
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnal Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (capt), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith
Bench: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Robert Kruger, 20 Fabian Booysen, 21 Jaco van der Walt, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg