Franco skippers Lions

Franco van der Merwe will captain the Lions in their Currie Cup opener against the Leopards in Rustenburg on Friday.

With Baywatch Grobbelaar out for the season Wikus van Heerden is likely to lead the side, but the latter is also struggling with his fitness and in the meanwhile Van der Merwe will do the job. Martin Bezhuidenhout, 20, will start at hooker with Hans van Dyk and Charles Emslie on the sidelines, while last year’s SA U20 lock David Bulbring will start in the second row.

Fullback Jaco Taute and flyhalf Elton Jantjes were members of the SA U20 side that came third in the recent Junior World Championships, with the latter coming off the bench.

Waylon Murray will make his Currie Cup debut for the side at inside centre.

Lions – 15 Jaco Taute; 14 Tonderai Chavhanga, 13 Marius Delport, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Michael Killian; 10 Herkie Kruger, 9 Jano Vermaak; 8 Jonothan Mokuena, 7 Franco van der Merwe (c), 6 Derick Minnie, 5 David Bulbring, 4 George Earl, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 JC van Rensburg.
Subs: Francois du Toit, Kevin Buys, Warren Whiteley, Robert Kruger, Chris Jonck, Elton Jantjies, Deon van Rensburg.

Leopards - 15 Russell Jeacocks; 14 Deon Scholtz, 13 Jovan Bowles, 12 Neill Jacobs, 11 Dumisani Matyeshana; 10 Cecil Dumont, 9 Michael Bondesio; 8 RW Kember, 7 Wilhelm Koch (c), 6 Victor Joubert, 5 Anthonie Gronum, 4 Ligtoring Landman, 3 Philip Lemmer, 2 Gavin Williamson, 1 Divan Kotzé.
Subs: 16 Pellow van der Westhuizen, 17 Aranos Coetzee, 18 Draad Linde, 19 Riaan Swanepoel, 20 Jean Tiedt, 21 Kempie Rautenbach, 22 Danie Dames.