Elton Jantjies will lead the Emirates Lions on the field for the first time in their Super Rugby opener against the Jaguares in Argentina this weekend.

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Jantjies has 134 career Super Rugby caps (121 for the Lions and 13 for the Stormers) while he has amassed 1103 points over his nine seasons of Super Rugby. He is just the fourth player to pass the 1100-point mark with Morne Steyn, who will make a return this year with the Bulls, the only other South African player on the list.

Courtnall Skosan, who has been named to start on the left wing, holds the record for the most Lions tries, with 33 from 72 matches.

Lock Ruben Schoeman and fullback Tiaan Swanepoel will make their Super Rugby debuts this weekend while reserves Morne van der Berg and Manuel Rass could also do so from the bench.

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2020 marks the second year in succession that the Lions have kicked off their season with a game against Argentina’s only Super Rugby franchise. Last year, the Lions emerged with a 25-16 win from their visit to Buenos Aires but, come the end of the season, the Jaguares led the South African conference.

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While the Jaguares recorded seven wins on the trot before falling to the Crusaders in the final, the Lions somehow fell from 5th spot on the overall ladder to 9th in the last two weeks of the regular season.

Given that the Lions had participated in the previous three finals, it was a massive fall from grace for the Johannesburg-based side.

Ivan van Rooyen, who took over the Lions in a caretaker capacity last year but has been confirmed as their head coach moving forward, will desperate for his side to make a solid start to the season.

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Lions: Tiaan Swanepoel, Tyrone Green, Duncan Matthews, Dan Kriel, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies (c), Andre Warner, Len Massyn, Vincent Tshituka, Marnus Schoeman, Marvin Orie, Ruben Schoeman, Jannie du Plessis, Pieter Jansen, Dylan Smith. Reserves: Jan-Henning Campher, Sti Sithole, Carlu Sadie, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Ruan Vermaak, Hacjivah Dayimani, Morne van der Berg, Manuel Rass.

– with Lions Rugby

Japan head coach, Jamie Joseph, is concerned that a new Japanese club competition could hurt the Brave Blossoms’ chances on the international circuit:

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