The Lions have suffered a huge blow ahead of their final Super Rugby clash of the seasonagainst the Bulls, with lock Franco van der Merwe ruled of the clash through injury.
Van der Merwe has been a warrior for the Lions with his commitment and durability this season, missing only six minutes in the team's first 14 matches, but was injured in his 15th consecutive match last weekend. He had to leave the field and is not available for the derby clash against the Bulls.
His place is taken by Ruan Botha, who produced some excellent rugby for the Lions when he was called upon during the Australasian tour after the sequence of lock injuries the Lions experienced. He was also one of the standout players in the SA Under-21 side that won the World Championship in Stellenbosch and Cape Town last month.
The match is one that the Bulls are wary of. They come off a poor sequence of losses, with just one win in their last five matches. While this will no doubt prey on their minds before a match they will target to win with a bonus point try against the Lions to ensure their playoff berth. There is also the reality that the Lions have won two of their last three matches - against the Sharks and Rebels and with a close loss against the Stormers sandwiched in between.
To achieve what might have seen the improbable just six weeks ago, the Lions will however have to retain their focus for the full 80 minutes - something they have been guilty of not doing throughout the season. Their free running style of play could very well produce more problems for the Bulls than the home team would care to have, after they leaked four tries in the second half against the Cheetahs and were then outplayed by the Sharks, who scored four tries last weekend.
Lions: 15 James Kamana, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Butch James, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Joshua Strauss (captain), 7 Grant Hattingh, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Etienne Oosthuizen, 19 Jaco Kriel, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 JR Esterhuizen, 22 Ruan Combrinck.
Date: Saturday, July 14
Venue: Loftus Versfeld
Kick-off: 19.10 (17.10 GMT)
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Sindile Mayende (South Africa), Stefan Breytenbach (South Africa)
TMO: JC Fortuin (South Africa)