Kagiso Rabada will play for the Lions for just the third time in two-and-a-half years this week. Photo: Reuters

JOHANNESBURG – Highveld Lions coach Geoffrey Toyana is looking forward to getting their Sunfoil Series campaign under way against the Warriors at the Wanderers Stadium from Tuesday.

The match marks the start of the 2017/18 franchise season, with round one of the season unique from previous years after all the Proteas Test players were made available to play.

The hosts will also be bolstered by some significant new signings, all of whom are available to play.

“My squad is looking good,” Toyana said. “We’ve made some good signings in Omphile Ramela, Craig Alexander and Beuran Hendricks.

“So, we can’t wait to see how they get on. I’m pleased that we starting at the Wanderers as well, a ground we know very well.”

There will also be the opportunity for Lions fans to see Kagiso Rabada play red-ball cricket for Toyana.

“It’s going to be tough in terms of team selection,” the coach explained. “I’ve got around 25 players to choose from, and everyone is fit and all of them are keen to play.

“So it’s a good headache to have going into that first game. We have our Proteas as well, and someone like Kagiso Rabada is going to be great to watch.

“It’s just the third time he’ll be playing for us in two-and-half years, so that’s something to look out for as well.”

Toyana says his players cannot wait to begin, adding: “We’ve trained well over the last week or so. We were involved in the eKasi (Challenge against the Titans) as well, so we got a small taste and we now want to get stuck in.

“It’s been a long off-season, but the boys have all got stronger and we’re all very excited to get going.”

Warriors coach Malibongwe Maketa echoed those sentiments. “We’re excited, we’re ready to go and everyone is looking forward to the new season,” he said.

The men from the Eastern Cape have a new four-day captain in Proteas T20 batsman Jon-Jon Smuts.

“For us, there are no Proteas and neither are our Kolpak players (Colin Ackermann, Colin Ingram and Simon Harmer) available,” Maketa added.

“So, it’s a great opportunity for our young players to test themselves against the best players in the country. We’re really excited to see where they are in terms of their progress and development.”

Squads For Wanderers

Lions: Stephen Cook (captain), Reeza Hendricks, Omphile Ramela, Rassie van der Dussen, Nicky van den Bergh, Dwaine Pretorius, Mangaliso Mosehle, Bjorn Fortuin, Kagiso Rabada, Beuran Hendricks, Craig Alexander, Ayavuya Myoli, Dominic Hendricks, Wiaan Mulder.

Warriors: Andrew Birch, Gihahn Cloete, Clyde Fortuin, Ayabulela Gqamane, Sisanda Magala, Eddie Moore, Lesiba Ngoepe, Anrich Nortjé, Jerry Nqolo, Lutho Sipamla, Jon-Jon Smuts (captain), Yaseen Vallie, David White.

African News Agency (ANA)