PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA - FEBRUARY 01: Derick Minnie of the MTN Lions scores a try during the Super Rugby Warm Up match between Southern Kings and Lions at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on February 01, 2014 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. (Photo by Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images)

Johannesburg – Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has announced a 26-man side to take on The Sharks at Ellis Park on Friday.

He made wholesale changes to his team which beat the Southern Kings 19-12 in Port Elizabeth at the weekend.

The match would be used as a learning curve for those who had not yet come into contact with a side as experienced as the Sharks.

“Of course it is important for us to avoid further injuries so we have decided to rest some of our players,” Ackermann said.

“However, I also believe Friday's game will give some of our young players an opportunity to express themselves and gain some valuable experience.

“It will be a chance for them to put their hands up for the future.”

In the forwards, Jacques van Rooyen (loosehead), Warwick Tecklenburg (flank) and Willie Britz (eighthman) move up from the bench into the starting XV.

Bees Roux, Lourens Erasmus, Martin Muller and Ruaan Lerm have also been drafted in after solid performances during their Vodacom Cup warm-up game against the Blue Bulls in Polokwane, last Saturday.

Meanwhile, in the backline, Willie du Plessis moves into the starting line-up at flyhalf as Faf de Klerk comes in at scrumhalf. Alwyn Hollenbach and Stokkies Hanekom have been brought in in the midfield, while Deon van Rensburg will start at right wing. Coenie van Wyk comes in at fullback after Andries Coetzee suffered a knee injury during the game against the Southern Kings.

The match kicks off at 7pm.

Lions: Coenie van Wyk, Deon van Rensburg, Stokkies Hanekom, Alwyn Hollenbach (captain), Chrysander Botha, Wilie du Plessis, Faf de Klerk, Willie Britz, Ruaan Lerm, Warwick Tecklenburg, Martin Muller, Lourens Erasmus, Bees Roux, Willie Wepener and Jacques van Rooyen.

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Charles Marais, Corne Fourie, Stephan Vermeulen, Hugo Kloppers, MB Lusaseni, Stephan de Witt, Ross Cronje, JW Jonker, Ruan Combrinck and Deon Helberg. – Sapa