- The Lions admit that Elton Jantjies will leave a huge "spiritual" void during his French adventure, but the team is also hopeful of seeing what a future without him may look like.
- In his place, head coach Ivan van Rooyen has enlisted former Shark and Cheetah Fred Zeilinga.
- The 28-year-old might not fit the bill as a Lions flyhalf, but Van Rooyen and co value his dependability and effective way of playing.
There will undeniably be a spiritual void when the Lions commence their Rainbow Cup SA campaign without Elton Jantjies, but Ivan van Rooyen is looking forward to a glimpse into a potential future without him.
The Ellis Park-based franchise's legendary playmaker is currently on a short French adventure with Pau, where it's hoped his exposure to the gritty Top14 prepares him sufficiently for the Springboks' series against the British & Irish Lions.
In his absence, the Lions have enlisted Fred Zeilinga to deputise.
15 Tiaan Swanepoel, 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Dan Kriel (captain), 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Andre Warner, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Vince Tshituka, 6 MJ Pelser, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 PJ Botha, 1 Sti Sithole
Substitutes: 16 Morne Brandon, 17 Nathan McBeth, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Emmanuel Tshituka, 21 Sibusiso Sangweni, 22 Morne van den Berg, 23 EW Viljoen
It's a move that some may believe goes against the grain of the team's more ambitious attacking pattern though that perception is largely based on the 28-year-old pivot's five-year stint at the Sharks, where he played in a more structured on-field environment.
His moves to the Cheetahs and Canon Eagles in Japan allowed him a bit more freedom.
Yet for Van Rooyen, it's not really a case of what type of player Zeilinga is.
What matters is that he has an experienced player in an important position who's known for his dependability.
"Obviously losing Elton (for this campaign) is a big development. He's been here for so many years. There's a little bit of, let's call it 'Lions instinct' that you might lose out on," Van Rooyen said on Thursday ahead of Saturday's meeting with the Bulls at Loftus.
"But Fred's got great kicking and attacking ability. He understands how we want to play and we're comfortable backing him to have a great game this weekend."
Zeilinga joined the Lions on trail during the preparation series earlier this year and has impressed the hierarchy enough to gain a more permanent gig.
Counting in his favour is that he's seamlessly fitted into the franchise's carefully cultivated culture established way back under Johan Ackermann and Swys de Bruin.
"Fred is an all-round good guy, a great character," said Van Rooyen.
"He's slotted in very nicely. He has the mindset of keeping things simple and effective is good for us. He's a no fuss kind of guy.
"What you see is what you get. That's something we've all really enjoyed."
Kick-off in Pretoria is at 19:00.