The Lions were probably prepared for the news that they’d be without Warren Whiteley for the Super Rugby semi-final against the Highlanders at Ellis Park on Saturday. Whiteley was on borrowed time after initially pulling out of the competition with a shoulder injury he sustained playing for the Springboks against Ireland in the third Test. He made a fast recovery, only to get injured again in the quarterfinal clash against the Crusaders. Jaco Kriel is a more than capable replacement as skipper, having guided the Lions through their undefeated Currie Cup season last year. – David O’Sullivan
Jaco Kriel will lead the Lions in their Super Rugby semi-final against the Highlanders in Johannesburg on Saturday (15:00 kick-off).
Kriel takes the captain’s armband after regular skipper Warren Whiteley was ruled out with a calf injury.
Whiteley failed a fitness test on Thursday and was not included in the match-day squad named by coach Johan Ackermann.
Ruan Ackermann will start at No 8 in Whiteley’s position, while Steph de Witt comes in on the bench.
Dillon Smit will also provide scrumhalf cover on the bench, replacing Ross Cronje who is ruled out with an ankle injury.
Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph has made few changes to his starting line up to face the Lions.
In the forwards, Joseph brings in James Lentjes for Shane Christie at openside flank and lock Alex Ainley replaces Luke Whitelock who moves to number eight.
#LIOvHIG Jaco Kriel: It's a big honour for me to lead. Losing Warren is a big blow.
— EWN Sport (@EWNsport) July 28, 2016
The starting backline from the quarter-final win against the Brumbies remains intact with the talented back three of Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo and Patrick Osborne likely to see a lot of ball during the match.
The Highlanders will employ a six/two split on the bench this weekend, with hooker Greg Pleasants-Tate, prop Ross Geldenhuys and lock Joe Wheeler added to the squad.
In the backs, the versatile Marty Banks makes his return from injury to take his place among the replacements. – Sport24
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith
Substitutes: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Jacques van Rooyen, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Steph de Witt, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Jaco van der Walt
15 Ben Smith (captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Matt Faddes, 12 Malakai Fekitoa, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
Substitutes: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Liam Squire, 21 Dan Pryor, 22 Te Aihe Toma, 23 Marty Banks