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Lions make 3 changes for Cheetahs clash

The Golden Lions have made three changes to this weekend’s team to face the Cheetahs. Lionel Mapoe...

Lions coach John Mitchell and captain Joshua Strauss on 10 August 2011. Picture: Marc Lewis/EWN

The Golden Lions have made three changes to this weekend's team to face the Cheetahs.

Lionel Mapoe will start at centre following the recent knee injury to Waylon Murray. The Springbok centre is to undergo surgery this week and has been ruled out of the competition.

Jaco Taute will start at fullback with Michael Killian moving to left wing.

Joshua Strauss will continue to captain the side in Doppies la Grange's absence.

La Grange is expected to be back within the next two weeks.

Following the recent Jano Vermaak saga, Michael Bondesio has become the union's number one scrumhalf.

Coach John Mitchell believes Bondesio handled the pressure well last weekend.

"He was going to get stressed physically but he hung in there. He's a fighter... a real tiger," he said.

The Lions stumbled against the Cheetahs late last season - something that Mitchell believes his team can turn around.

"We fell short that night so we have a memory of that," he said.

"We'll also treat them with the utmost respect - they've played exceptionally well. They're very energetic and enthusiastic… We are looking forward to it."

Meanwhile, Ashley Johnson has been released from the Springboks and will play at eighth man for the Free State side.

Fellow number eight, Joshua Strauss, said it will not make any difference.

"We look at the team and we want to play to our strength and their weaknesses," said the captain.

"We always know [that] they're going to come at you for 80 minutes so I don't think it depends on who is playing against us. We know what the Cheetahs are going to throw at us, so we will work on that and concentrate on that for now," he added.

The match kicks off at 7:10pm.