Johannesburg - Excitement rather than nerves is building ahead of the Currie Cup final against Western Province in Cape Town on Saturday, Golden Lions captain Warren Whiteley says.
"There is a vibe and the messages of encouragement have been fantastic. We are really looking forward to the occasion," Whiteley said at the team announcement in Johannesburg on Thursday.
Coach Johan Ackermann made a surprise change to his bench selecting an extra prop for Saturday's clash. Jacques van Rooyen moved into the match-day 22 at the expense of flanker Kwagga Smith.
Ackermann's justification for selecting two props as replacements was his belief that Western Province would do the same.
However, Western Province coach Allister Coetzee opted for only one prop on the bench when he announced his team later on Thursday.
"Traditionally there is always a wet underfoot at Newlands and a little bit more scrums," Ackermann said.
"And it is a final so I think there will be a bit more nerves and maybe a bit more handling errors and therefore more scrums."
There was good news for the Lions as dynamic flanker Jaco Kriel was declared fully fit to play in the final.
The talk in the build-up to the match had been the ball-in-hand approach of both teams. Despite finals traditionally being tight affairs, both captain and coach said they would stick to their expansive style.
"We are not going to shy away from what we've been doing throughout the season. It's been working for us and the guys have really done well to identify space and exploit that space," Whiteley said.
"That is what we've been coached to do throughout the season and I don't think it would be a good idea to veer far away from that."
Whiteley said while they would continue to play with width, they would have to work hard to earn the right to go wide.
"A final is a close contest and playing against a side like Western Province with a fantastic defensive record means you are not going to get through the first couple of phases, like we've been doing over the last few weekends," he said.
"We will really have to work hard and be patient with ball in hand to break that wall and I think that goes for our defence as well."
15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh (captain), 12 Jaco Taute, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Alistair Vermaak
Substitutes: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Brok Harris, 19 Gerbrandt Grobler, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Michael van der Spuy
15 Jaco van der Walt, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe
Substitutes: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Julian Redelinghuys, 19 Willie Britz, 20 Warwick Tecklenburg, 21 Mark Richards, 22 Harold Vorster