Sonny Bill Williams. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
Sonny Bill Williams. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

The Blues may be the weakest of the New Zealand Super Rugby franchises but in the past two seasons have proved to be better than some of the South African teams.

The Lions know this and having seen off two fierce South African contenders will get a taste of the strength of New Zealand opposition at Ellis Park on Saturday.

The Blues have yet to win a game this season but ran the Highlanders (41-34) and the Chiefs (27-21) close.

There is also the serious matter for the Lions of keeping Sonny-Bill Williams on a leash.

"Sonny-Bill is a world-class player but he’s not a focal point for us," said Lions backline coach Neil du Bruin. "They’ve got stars all over the park and they’ve got quality players. We’ve got to be the better collective unit. It’s that simple."

De Bruin knows that disabling the dangerous Blues backs will allow the Lions to continue their decent start to the new season.

More importantly‚ he knows they need to be tested against an opposition that provides something different from an attacking perspective.

For all their misfortune from a results perspective‚ the Blues are a well-conditioned side that can thrive on the Highveld when given the chance.

"The Blues played really well in their last two matches and if you look at the scores against the very good opposition they played against‚ they were very tight‚" said De Bruin.

"It’s going to be a good indicator, but it’s not about them‚ it’s about us. It’s always a good challenge to play against the New Zealand teams.

"You look for an 80-minute performance, but that’s not always the case. In some games you’ll start better and in other games you’ll finish better.

"While we are looking for the complete performance‚ we’re not too worried about the last 10 minutes because the coaches have put in the hard work and the players have realised they have to be clinical."

The Lions are unchanged from the side that destroyed the Bulls at Loftus last weekend.

While the final score (49-35) looked close, the Bulls were nowhere close to achieving any sort of parity against a Lions side that picked lock Franco Mostert at blindside flank.

With a bench that includes Hacjivah Dayimani and Albertus "Kwagga" Smith‚ the Lions are prepared to go the distance with Tana Umaga’s side.

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee‚ 14 Sylvian Mahuza‚ 13 Lionel Mapoe‚ 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg‚ 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi‚ 10 Elton Jantjies‚ 9 Ross Cronjé‚ 8 Warren Whiteley (c)‚ 7 Franco Mostert‚ 6 Cyle Brink‚ 5 Marvin Orie‚ 4 Andries Ferreira‚ 3 Ruan Dreyer‚ 2 Malcolm Marx‚ 1 Jacques van Rooyen. Replacements: Subs: 16 Robbie Coetzee‚ 17 Dylan Smith‚ 18 Jacobie Adriaanse‚ 19 Lourens Erasmus‚ 20 Kwagga Smith‚ 21 Ashlon Davids‚ 22 Harold Vorster‚ 23 Hacjivah Dayimani