Sink or swim.
That could very well be the message to the players by new coach Mziwakhe Nkosi before the Lions host the Pumas in a preparation series match at Ellis Park on Friday night.
The Lions will introduce a host of young players and U-21 stars in this game and expectations are the team could initially struggle with cohesion and composure against a well-settled Pumas side.
There is, however, also great excitement about the future of many of the players, with No 8 Francke Horn potentially forming an explosive loose-trio combination with two seasoned stars in flankers Roelof Smit and Marnus Schoeman.
Also, there is plenty of anticipation about the performances of 102kg wing Prince Nkabinde, centre James Mollentze and fullback Tiaan Swanepoel, who’ll play in the flyhalf position this weekend.
While Nkosi will make his debut as coach at this level, he has worked with most of the players when he steered the Lions U21 team to the final against the Blue Bulls last year.
The Pumas, meanwhile, will bring a well-drilled side to Jozi – one that smashed a Bulls side 44-14 in Nelspruit in the last regular round of the Currie Cup when Bulls coach Jake White also fielded a team loaded with U21 players.
Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse has welcomed back star flyhalf Eddie Fouche, who was in good form in the early stages of the Super Rugby Unlocked competition before injury cut short his participation, while lock Le Roux Roets, and No 8 Willie Engelbrecht are two players the Lions will have to keep an eye on.
Lions: EW Viljoen; Prince Nkabinde, Manuel Rass, James Mollentze, Divan Rossouw; Tiaan Swanepoel, Morné van den Berg; Francke Horn, Roelof Smit, Marnus Schoeman, Reinhard Nothnagel (capt), Emmanuel Tshituka, Wiehahn Herbst, PJ Botha, Nathan McBeth. Bench: Dameon Venter, Banele Mthenjane, Jannie du Plessis, Ruhan Straeuli, MJ Pelser, Dillon Smit, Luke Rossouw, Ngia Selengbe, Ruan Dreyer, Izan Esterhuizen, Sibusiso Sangweni.
Pumas: Devon Williams, Luther Obi, Alwayno Visagie, Wayne van der Bank, Etienne Taljaard, Eddie Fouche, Giovan Snyman, Willie Engelbrecht, Ewart Potgieter, Daniel Maartens, Pieter Jansen van Vuren (capt), Brandon Valentyn, Ig Prinsloo, Simon Westraadt, Morgan Naude. Bench: AJ le Roux, Liam Hendricks, Dewald Maritz, Le Roux Roets, Kwanda Dimaza, Ginter Smuts, Ali Mgijima, Tapiwa Mafura.