Vorster returns, Cronje to lead Lions
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Seasoned scrumhalf Ross Cronjé will lead the Lions in their Super Rugby pre-season outing against the against the SupaBarbarians XV in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The Lions have picked a squad of 28 for this warm-up, with the most significant news the return of star centre Harold Vorster.
Vorster, who missed almost the entire 2016 season with torn anterior cruciate ligaments in his left knee, will add significant depth to a Lions midfield that already boasts Springboks Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Lionel Mapoe.
Other stalwarts like Corné Fourié, Robbie Coetzee, Andries Ferreira, Lourens Erasmus and Cyle Brink will also be in action for a team that still has a very youthful look to it.
Border Bulldogs import Johannes Jonker gets his first start in a Lions jersey, while a host of last years' juniors will also run out for the senior side - including Shaun Reynolds and Madosh Tambwe in the starting line-up, as well as Hacjiva Dayimani, Eddie Fouché and Jean-Luc Cilliers on the bench.
The Barbarians selection consists mostly of club players, but do have a few interesting names.
Marco Alberts played Sevens for the Lions, while Bradley Moolman is a Leopard representative.
Veteran Rudi Mathee, a former Lions Super Rugby representative, will add considerable experience to the pack.
The BaaBaas are expected to stick to their tradition of an attacking brand, but the starting XV won't be named till Saturday morning - just hours before kick-off.
The team is coached by well-known personalities in the game - Johan Kluyts, Nico Luus, Reghardt Botha and Neil Kalify.
Lions: 15 Gerrie Labuschagne, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Jacques Nel, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Selom Gavor, 10 Shaun Reynolds, 9 Ross Cronje (captain), 8 Fabian Booysen, 7 Robert Kruger, 6 Cyle Brink, 5 Lourens Erasmus, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Johannes Jonker, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Corne Fourie.
Replacements - from: Armand van der Merwe, Sithembiso Sithole, Hencus van Wyk, Jean-Pierre du Preez, Bobby de Wee, Hacjiva Dayimani, Victor Sekekete, Dillon Smit, Eddie Fouche, Gerdus van der Walt, Jarryd Sage, Dean Gordon, Jean-Luc Cilliers.
OpenWaters SupaBarbarians squad: Aubrey McDonald, Sheldon Williamson, Marco Alberts, Khyle Verwey, Jacques Erasmus, Pieter Botha, Bradley Moolman, Jaco Haywards, Johan Grobler, Robbie Petzer, Ashley Davids, Siya Masuku, Stokkies du Plessis, Hendrik van der Nest, Samuel Niemand, Francois Robertse, Pieter Mathews, Ian van Deventer, Wikus van der Berg, Ethienne Oosthuizen, Theo Becker, Rudi Mathee, Zander de Kock, Jan-Francois Bester, Armand Jordaan, Johan Pieterse, Bruce Muller, Rudi Britz.
Date: Saturday, February 4
\Venue: Wits Stadium, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00 GMT)
Referee: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa)