Whiteley back to lead Lions
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Warren Whiteley is back to lead the Lions for their opening Super Rugby match against the Sharks at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Whiteley, who was out with a long-term injury, made his comeback while playing club rugby in Japan. He will start in the No.8 jersey on Saturday.
Meanwhile, youngster Aphiwe Dyantyi will get his first taste of Super Rugby.
Dyantyi is filling the big shoes of injured wing Courtnall Skosan, while Sylvian Mahuza steps up to the plate at right wing.
The Lions also welcome back their BlitzBok star Albertus 'Kwagga' Smith who will don the No.6 jumper in the absence of the injured Jaco Kriel.
Rising star Hacjivah Dayimani has been included on the bench along with loan player Marnus Schoeman (Pumas).
Should they take the field, both will make their Super Rugby debut for the Lions.
Surprisingly, the Lions do not have a recognised scrumhalf or flyhalf replacement on the bench.
Jacques van Rooyen will run out in his 50th Super Rugby cap at Ellis Park.
Van Rooyen was invited to train with the Lions in 2012 after catching the eye while in action for a club team in Pretoria and has since cemented his place in the squad, even captaining the side during the Currie Cup in 2017.
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Albertus Smith, 5 Francois Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Jacobus Adriaanse, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Hacjivah Dayimani, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Rohan Janse Van Rensburg.
Date: Saturday, February 17
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 17.15 (15.15 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs, Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Marius Jonker