JOHANNESBURG - Lions boss Johan Ackermann has stuck with the same players who got the better of the Hurricanes in last weekend’s semi-final for Saturday’s Super Rugby final against the Crusaders at Ellis Park (kickoff 4pm).
In fact, it is the same matchday-23 for the fourth week in a row; the side having done the business against the Sunwolves and Sharks, on two occasions, too, since they returned from the June break.
Jaco Kriel, who has fulfilled the leadership role since the June break, will lead the side in the absence of regular skipper Warren Whiteley who misses out on the final because of a ligament tear in his pelvis.
In total there are 10 Springboks in the starting team as the Lions look to win the title for the first time. They came up short in the final against the Hurricanes in Wellington last year.
Lions players who featured a year ago but are not involved this weekend are Whiteley, props Julian Redelinghuys and Dylan Smith, flank Warwick Tecklenburg, centre Howard Mnisi and utility back Jaco van der Walt.
The Crusaders edged the Chiefs in their semi-final clash last week and are looking to win title number eight. Saturday’s match is their 12th appearance in a Super Rugby final.
The match will be the last for outgoing head coach Ackermann who’ll take up a position with Gloucester Rugby in England in the coming weeks. He’s to be replaced by his assistant Swys de Bruin for the Currie Cup and next year’s Super Rugby competition.
Saturday’s match will also be the last time local fans will be able to cheer on scrumhalf Faf de Klerk, who is also headed abroad.
Both the Lions and Crusaders have identical win-loss records for the season, having both won 16 of 17 matches played.
Lions team: Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje, Ruan Ackermann, Kwagga Smith, Jaco Kriel, Franco Mostert, Andries Ferreira, Ruan Dreyer, Malcolm Marx, Jacques van Rooyen. Replacements: Akker van der Merwe, Corne Fourie, Johannes Jonker, Lourens Erasmus, Cyle Brink, Faf de Klerk, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Sylvian Mahuza.