Robert Ebersohn will lead the Cheetahs when they face the Lions in their first Super Rugby pre-season outing in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Ebersohn has been handed the captaincy for the Ellis Park outing in the absence of regular skipper Adriaan Strauss, with the Bok vice-captain on the year-end tour given a break this week.
Strauss is one of several players being held back for the second pre-season outing, against the Stormers in Bloemfontein next week.
Injures also played a key role in the selection, with the Cheetahs hard-working lock Martin Muller out for three months after suffering a groin injury in training last week.
The only other long-term concern is fellow second row forward Andries Ferreira (knee).
Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie said they decided not to use any player who returned from injury recently.
"Those missing out this week will get a run next week," Fourie told this website, adding: "That is what we are using these two games [against the Lions and Stormers] for - to rotate some players."
Ebersohn will start at inside centre, where he is likely to play all season - with new recruit Johann Sadie on his outside.
However, this week he will be partnered by Griquas veteran JP Nel, with Sadie one of those being 'rested' after only recently recovering from a hamstring injury.
The Cheetahs complete their pre-season preparation with a game against the Bulls in Polokwane on February 9 - when they are likely to feature their best available team for the first time.
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Jannie Boshoff, 13 JP Nel, 12 Robert Ebersohn (captain), 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Pieter van Zyl, 8 Johannes Prinsloo, 7 Tertius Daniller, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Rossouw de Klerk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Rynhard Landman, 19 Waltie Vermeulen, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Barry Geel, 22 Hansie Graaff.
Date: Saturday, January 26
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 17.00 (15.00 GMT)
Referee: Tiaan Jonker
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