We have been fortunate to have had depth at tighthead
The defending Currie Cup champions, the Golden Lions, still have a host of players on the injury list.
However, World Cup-winning Bok prop CJ van der Linde may be back for their opening encounter with the Cheetahs in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The Lions' caretaker coach, Johan Ackermann, told this website that Van der Linde has made good progress on the road to full recovery from the hamstring strain he suffered in the latter rounds of the Super Rugby competition.
This timely boost comes after the Springbok call-up of Patrick Cilliers at the weekend.
"We have been fortunate to have had depth at tighthead ... with Pat [Cilliers], Jacobie [Adriaanse], CJ [van der Linde]," Ackermann said, adding that there is also young Ruan Dreyer, a very promising player "whom I have a lot of confidence in".
However, the Lions' lengthy injury list, which plagued them throughout the Super Rugby competition, has not completely cleared yet.
"We still have a number of players on the sideline," the coach told this website.
"[Bok hooker] Bandise Maku [who underwent pre-season surgery for a torn pectoral muscle] will be out for a while yet.
"He [Maku] has virtually made a full recovery, but still has to do some strengthening exercises and work on his conditioning.
"Also still out for between a week and three weeks are Michael Rhodes (knee), Alwyn Hollenbach (knee), Dylan des Fountain (knee) and James Kamana (ankle).
"Deon van Rensburg (fibula) and Jaco Taute (shoulder) will be sidelined for a while still."
The Lions, in the midst of a coaching crisis - after their Kiwi head coach John Mitchell was suspended in June - face the Cheetahs (at home), Sharks (away) and Western Province at home) in the opening three weeks of their title defence.
Ackermann is confident that most of the injured players will be back by the end of the month.
By Jan de Koning