Simelane, who has been named at fullback, will return to his old stomping ground on his debut for the men from Pretoria, while Springbok wing Nkosi and No 8 Mosi will also be running out in blue for the first time.

With Simelane at fullback, Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White has named David Kriel at inside centre, next to Lionel Mapoe, with Cornal Hendricks starting on the wing.

There are also two new players among the replacements – prop Francois Klopper will make his Vodacom URC debut if he comes off the bench, while Springbok flanker Marco van Staden is back in Pretoria after a stint in the UK with Leicester Tigers.

“We have had a great six weeks of pre-season training where we have worked on areas we felt we needed to improve on from last season,” said White.

“This has also been a great opportunity for our new recruits to acclimatise in their new environment. A lot of hard work went into the past few weeks, and we are pleased with where we are ahead of the start of the season.

“We now have a tough encounter against a strong Emirates Lions team that will want to begin their season campaign on a positive note. Even though we expect a slow start, given that it is the first game of the season, we are looking forward to the lads giving their all to set the tone for the rest of the season.”

Vodacom Bulls: 15 Wandisile Simelane, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 David Kriel, 11 Sbu Nkosi, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Embrose Papier; 8 Mihlali Mosi, 7 Ruan Vermaak, 6 Marcell Coetzee (captain), 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp. Replacements: 16 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Francois Klopper, 19 Janko Swanepoel, 20 Marco van Staden; 21 Zak Burger, 22 Morne Steyn, 23 Stedman Gans.