Lions coach John Mitchell was has delayed making a final decision on the availability of veteran Springbok utility forward Wikus van Heerden ahead of the Super Rugby season opener against the Cheetahs in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Van Heerden, who was nursing a knee injury, was bracketed with Griquas import Hendrik Roodt in the second row.
Mitchell said a final call on Van Heerden will be made on Friday. If Roodt has to start, Stephan Greeff will move up to the bench and could make his Super Rugby debut.
Franco van der Merwe also returns to the side at lock.
Hooker Callie Visagie is set to make his debut for the Johannesburg-based franchise.
With hooker Bandise Maku out for a lengthy period and Martin Bezuidenhout short of game time, Visage was Mitchell's preferred choice. He will oppose Springbok hooker and Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss.
Jacobie Adriaanse has been withdrawn with Springbok CJ can der Linde taking his place on the bench.
Cobus Grobbelaar comes into the starting XV because of injury to Michael Rhodes. He starts at No.6 with Derrick Minnie moving to the other side of the scrum
James Kamana starts on the left wing in place of Michael Killian, who has not completely recovered from a hamstring strain. Killian has belatedly come onto the bench in place if Lionel Mapoe, who ironically had to withdraw because of a hamstring strain.
Lions: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Doppies le Grange, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 James Kamana, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Joshua Strauss (captain), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden/ Hendrik Roodt, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Hendrik Roodt/Stephan Greeff, 19 Warren Whiteley, 20 Tian Meyer, 21 Butch James, 22 Michael Killian.
Date: Saturday, February 25
Venue: Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 19.10 (17.10 GMT)
Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Sindile Mayende (South Africa), Stefan Breytenbach (South Africa)
TMO: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)
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