Cape Town - Lions coach Johan Ackermann is confident that his new-look team will perform well in their Super Rugby clash against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires on Saturday.
After leaving several Springbok stars at home for the trip to Argentina, Ackermann made nine changes to the team which beat the Waratahs 55-36 in Johannesburg last weekend.
Marvin Orie will make his debut for the Lions at lock, replacing Franco Mostert, while in the backline, 21-year-old Shaun Reynolds will make his first start in Super Rugby, replacing Elton Jantjies at flyhalf.
“The team is well-balanced, we’re giving guys a chance who worked really hard in the off-season,” Ackermann said.
“I’m very happy for Marvin Orie who will start. Also Jacques Nel and Shaun Reynolds, they worked really hard in the off-season and had to wait patiently in the warm-up games as well as in Rounds 1 and 2.”
Nel start in midfield alongside Harold Vorster, with Rohan Janse van Rensburg staying behind to attend the funeral of his mother who died last week.
The Lions also sent a second-string team to Argentina for their final group game last year - a decision which cost them dearly - but Ackermann has explained why he opted to rest several of his frontline players.
“This gives us a chance to get some of the other guys fresh again. We’re also excited about our bench. It’s a really strong bench and hopefully they can also make a difference for us. So it’s got a lot to do with rotating the guys a bit. I’ve always said from the start that we must trust our squad. It can never be a one-player thing. We’ve got a lot of faith in our players starting, guys like Cyle Brink and Kwagga (Smith). Let’s hope they put pressure on the guys normally starting.”
It will be a tough challenge though, Ackermann admitted.
“We know it will be a hard game. In all essence, it is Argentina’s national team that we’re playing against,” he said.
Kick-off for Saturday’s game is scheduled for 21:40 (SA time).
15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Tomás Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Felipe Arregui, 2 Agustín Creevy (captain), 1 Santiago García Botta
Substitutes:16 Julián Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera Paz, 18 Cristian Bartoloni, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Juan Martín Hernández, 23 Matías Moroni
15 Jaco van der Walt, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Jacques Nel, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Shaun Reynolds, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Johannes Jonker, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Dylan Smith
Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 jacques van Rooyen, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Louren Erasmus, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Andries Coetzee, 23 Sylvian Mahuza