Durban – Sharks director of rugby Jake White wants the Lions to be treated with full respect when the two sides meet in their top-of-the-table Super Rugby affair at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.
The Johannesburg franchise have won two out of three games so far this season following their absence from the competition last year and are in second place on the log.
The Sharks head the South African conference beating the Bulls and the Hurricanes in their opening two games, followed by a bye last weekend.
The Lions, however, have a woeful record against the home side with just one win in eight meetings.
“What they have shown us is that you can't take them lightly and you can't go into the game thinking it's just going to happen,” White said ahead of the clash.
Their visitors trumped the Cheetahs and the Stormers in their opening two games, before succumbing to the Bulls last weekend.
“The Lions epitomise everything about South African rugby.
“Everyone was talking about how surprised they were about how competitive the Kings were this time last year, and now they're saying it about the Lions.
“Their competitiveness also shows the depth in South African rugby.”
The Sharks named an unchanged team for the third consecutive game this week, which was in line with their continuity plan ahead of their next batch of fixtures.
“The next four weeks will be a completely different challenge for us.
“We have a tough run coming up with the Lions and Reds, and then the Bulls up at Loftus before we host the Waratahs who are one of the biggest teams in the competition.”
The highlight of the Lions' selection is a first appearance of the season for Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies, who has been sidelined due to a shoulder injury.
Star goal-kicker Marnitz Boshoff moves to fullback as a result of Jantjies' inclusion.
“Elton has worked very hard to come back,” Lions coach Johann Ackermann said.
“He has the X-factor and has played at the highest level.
“Both him and Bossie (Boshoff) will add value.
“Bossie has proved himself in the past as a great number 15, while it will provide us with a left-footed and a right-footed kicker. I'm very happy Elton is back.” – Sapa