As he had done for their clash against the Brumbies the previous week, Lions coach Swys de Bruin waved his rotation stick again yesterday ahead of Friday morning’s Super Rugby fixture against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
While 10 changes had been made to the Lions team, the biggest call was probably to rest star hooker Malcolm Marx, making way for the return of captain Warren Whiteley.
The skipper was set to lead the side after spending seven weeks on the sidelines while recovering from the chest muscle tear he picked up in their match against the Stormers in Cape Town in the second round of the campaign.
De Bruin also made some other big calls.
Livewire flank Kwagga Smith was making a return, while flyhalf Elton Jantjies, Ruan Combrinck and fullback Andries Coetzee were all being rested, with Jantjies and Coetzee starting from the bench.
However, wing Courtnall Skosan flew back on Wednesday morning to attend to his critically ill father, meaning Coetzee switches back to No 15, Sylvian Mahuza moving to right wing and Combrinck getting a place on the bench.
Gianni Lombard replaced Jantjies, while Ross Cronje was selected to start ahead of Nic Groom at scrumhalf.
Up front there was a completely new front row, with Sti Sithole, Robbie Coetzee and Carlu Sadie replacing Nathan McBeth, Marx and Johannes Jonker, while Stephan Lewies had been moved from flank to lock in the place of Rhyno Herbst.
And Smith was back at openside flank, with Cyle Brink moving over to the blindside, while Whiteley slotted in for Hacjivah Dayimani at No 8.
De Bruin, meanwhile, hailed the character of centre Lionel Mapoe, who had battled on despite playing with a bloody eye in his 100th game last week.
Though he was temporarily replaced by Lombard, Mapoe later returned to the field.
“We are very blessed to have a guy like Mapoe, who is a role model for the youngsters coming in, both on and off the field,” De Bruin said.
- Wing Courtnall Skosan returned to South Africa on Wednesday morning to attend to his critically ill father. He’s replaced by rookie Tyrone Green.
Lions: Andries Coetzee, Sylvian Mahuza, Lionel Mapoe, Franco Naude, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Gianni Lombard, Ross Cronje, Warren Whiteley (c), Cyle Brink, Kwagga Smith, Marvin Orie, Stephan Lewies, Carlu Sadie, Robbie Coetzee, Sti Sithole. Bench: Malcolm Marx, Frans van Wyk, Johannes Jonker, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Marnus Schoeman, Nic Groom, Elton Jantjies, Ruan Combrinck.