Both Johan Ackermann (Lions coach) and Nollis Marais (Bulls) have picked almost full strength teams for the match, with both outfits now looking to find some form ahead of the start of Super Rugby in two weeks time.
Ackermann has picked a formidable starting XV, with several successful combinations from last year back together.
Warwick Tecklenburg, who missed out on the Currie Cup because he was playing club rugby in Japan, is back alongside Jaco Kriel and Warren Whiteley in the loose-trio, while Ross Cronje, so good in the Currie Cup, teams up with Elton Jantjies as the halfback pairing. Faf de Klerk will provide the spark off the bench.
And, in the centres, rookie No 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg will team up with fit-again Lionel Mapoe for the first time.
Eleven players will warm the bench tomorrow, with Ackermann promising every traveller to Polokwane game-time. Those who didn't crack the group for this weekend’s match - like Marnitz Boshoff and Lourens Erasmus - will almost certainly start against Argentina’s Jaguars at Ellis Park next week in what will be the Lions’ final hit out before they travel to Japan to kick off their Super Rugby challenge against the Sunwolves.
With not much time left, skipper Whiteley is focusing on getting three aspects of his team’s performance spot on tomorrow.
“The Bulls are an extremely strong team in the set-piece; that is the scrums and line-outs, where they're also very good at contesting opposition ball. So, the set-piece is going to be very important for us in Polokwane,” said Whiteley yesterday.
Jacques van Rooyen, Robbie Coetzee and Julian Redelinghuys - so impressive over the last two years, will start the game in the front row, with Ruan Dreyer, Dylan Smith and Malcolm Marx coming off the bench.
At line-out time Franco Mostert and Andries Ferreira will be tasked with winning the majority of ball, while Robert Kruger and Martin Muller are the backup.
“We want to keep the ball in hand and put some phases of play together,” said the Bok No 8. “To score tries in Super Rugby you have to put phases together and we'll get a chance to do that this weekend.”
The Lions under Ackermann have always put good, quality phase play together and they're likely to maintain that open, passing game tomorrow.
“While we faced the Valke and Leopards last weekend, this will be our first real test under pressure and I’m hoping the decision-making will be good.”
Here Whiteley is no doubt referring to his 9-10 combination of Cronje and Jantjies, but also fullback Andries Coetzee.
LIONS STARTING XV: Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Lionel Mapoe, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje, Warren Whiteley, Warwick Tecklenburg, Jaco Kriel, Franco Mostert, Andries Ferreira, Julian Redelinghuys, Robbie Coetzee, Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Dylan Smith, Ruan Dreyer, Robert Kruger, Martin Muller, Ruan Ackermann, Stephan de Wit, Ruan Lerm, Faf de Klerk, Howard Mnisi, Stokkies Hanekom, Anthony Volmink, Jaco van der Walt - The Star
Original source: Lions, Bulls not leaving it to chance