Johannesburg - Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann was faced with the conundrum of resting his players for their final round-robin match of the season and possibly lose momentum going into their semi-final.
Ackermann opted to give the majority of his players that featured in the previous nine matches a well-deserved break for this weekend’s match against Griquas in Johannesburg with the hopes of having them revitalised for the semi-finals.
The Lions mentor made 14 changes to his starting XV which will see some of the fringe players make their Currie Cup debuts and in the process grow the depth.
“It (making wholesale changes) wasn’t easy because you have to consider momentum versus mental and physical recovery,” Ackermann said at the team announcement in Johannesburg on Thursday.
“I know they (the first-choice players) will come back Monday refreshed which is important so that we can push in the playoffs.”
Ackermann said he had faith in the team for Saturday’s clash and expected some early jitters from the new-look side.
“The majority of the guys have run with the team for a number of weeks and normally on a Monday we give everybody a chance to run the plays,” Ackermann said.
“Hopefully they will settle in quickly and we’ll get that fluency but it is a great position to be in because we can give guys match time before a semi-final and we can see how the guys can play at this level.”
The Van der Walt brothers, Jaco and Gerdus, will run out together at flyhalf and inside centre respectively with the latter partnering with Jacques Nel in midfield.
Scrumhalf Ricky Schroeder has been named as captain but may have to hand the duties back to Warren Whiteley, who is on standby for lock Martin Muller.
Muller injured his ankle in Thursday’s training and will have to pass a late fitness test.
Hooker Robbie Coetzee returns after a two week lay-off and is joined by Pieter Scholtz at tighthead while lock MB Lusaseni was named alongside Muller.
Kwagga Smith, Fabian Booysen and Ruaan Lerm will form the loose-trio while Mark Richards and Sampie Mastriet will be the wings and Vainon Willis the fullback.
Ackermann was able to pick a second string side as his charges are already assured of top spot on the Currie Cup log.
Kick-off for Saturday’s clash at Ellis Park is scheduled for 16:05.
15 Vainon Willis, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 Jacques Nel, 12 Gerdus van der Walt, 11 Mark Richards, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Ricky Schroeder (captain), 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Fabian Booysen, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Martin Muller, 4 MB Lusaseni, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Dylan Smith
Substitutes: 16. Mark Pretorius, 17. Jacques van Rooyen, 18. Bobby de Wee, 19. Stephan de Witt, 20. Lohan Jacobs, 21. Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 22. Salom Gavor
15 Gouws Prinsloo, 14 Sandile Ngcobo, 13 Ruan Nel, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Ntabeni Dukisa, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Tian Meyer (captain), 8 Carel Greeff, 7 Jono Janse van Rensburg, 6 RJ Liebenberg, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Jonathan Adendorf, 3 Stephan Kotze, 2 Sidney Tobias, 1 Danie Mienie
Substitutes: 16 Abraham le Roux, 17 Steph Roberts, 18 Leon Karemaker, 19 Wendal Wehr, 20 Dylon Frylinck, 21 Riaan Viljoen, 22 Jonathan Francke