The Lions start a new chapter today when they open their Absa Currie Cup campaign against the Cheetahs, not only after the energy put in to put them back on the Super Rugby map, but also without several of their regulars who made their tough season slightly more bearable.
Boshoff had been one of the mainstays in the team and the former Blue Bulls and Griquas player grabbed his opportunity, but then had to stand back when Elton Jantjies returned from Cape Town after a rough ride with the Stormers.
Jantjies started both the promotion/relegation matches against the Kings, but have been benched for today’s match against the Cheetahs.
“Marnitz was probably unlucky not to start in the two matches against the Kings, while we wanted to give Elton a break after he played a lot of Super Rugby this season,” said Lions coach Johann Ackermann.
Both teams start the competition with new captains, Lions flank Derick Minnie having taken over the captaincy from prop JC Janse van Rensburg, while Cheetahs flank Boom Prinsloo is the new skipper in the place of Bok hooker Adriaan Strauss.
The Cheetahs Currie Cup skipper last year, centre Robert Ebersohn, is still in the side as vice-captain, but coach Naka Drotske probably felt with Ebersohn leaving for France after the competition, Prinsloo was more of a long-term investment.
Analysing both teams, the biggest question marks for the Cheetahs will be their new-look frontrow, while the two young Lions locks will have big shoes to fill.
The visitors have selected former Lion Caylib Oosthuizen and the relatively unknown John-Roy Jenkinson as props with loosehead Wian du Preez, back from overseas, on the bench and having to cover at tighthead as well.
The Lions have Hugo Kloppers and Stephen Greeff in the vital
No 4 and 5 lock positions, in the place of the seasoned Bok squad member Franco van der Merwe and Hendrik Roodt who has left for France.
But with game-breakers in both sides like scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius for the Cheetahs and centre Stokkies Hanekom for the Lions, a free-flowing high-scoring game can’t be ruled out.