Warren Whiteley is fit and captains the Lions team Super Rugby match against the Chiefs in Hamilton on Friday (kick-off 09:35).
Whiteley (photo GB Jordaan) returns seven weeks after suffering a pectoral muscle tear. He joined the Lions on Sunday after passing a fitness test in Johannesburg last Friday.
His inclusion is one of ten changes to the team that lost to the Brumbies last week, on of which is a positional switch.
And with Whiteley, also on a return from injury, is fellow Springbok and a Blitzboks teammate Kwagga Smith. With near-Bok Cyle Brink who was probably denied Bok colours last year because of injury, the loose trio in itself inspires more belief in the struggling Lions of 2019.
However, continuity is an obvious concern as coach Swys de Bruin keeps searching for his best combination in a year of rebuilding and could hamper a turnabout in the losing results of the last two matches.
All three front rowers didn’t start last week, with Sti Sithole, Robbie Coetzee and Carlu Sadie getting a start against the Chiefs.
Coetzee takes over at hooker where recent captain in Whiteley’s absence, Malcom Marx, gets a breather in line with the Springbok protocols on top Springboks.
Stefan Lewies moves from flank to his rightful position at lock in place of Rhyno Herbst.
Elton Jantjies also needs rest and is replaced at flyhalf by Gianni Lombard who will have Ross Cronje as his scrumhalf in place of Nic Groom who started last week.
In the back three Andries Coetzee is on the bench with Sylvian Mahuza starting and Courtnall Skosan replaces Ruan Combrinck.
15 Sylvian Mahuza, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Franco Naude, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Gianni Lombard, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Sti Sithole. Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Frans Van Wyk, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Andries Coetzee.