Cape Town – This time, last year, Faf de Klerk was the man chosen by Springbok coach Allister Coetzee as his first-choice scrumhalf.
A year later, and De Klerk is out in the Springbok wilderness.
Instead, Ross Cronje will earn his first Test cap when the Boks take on France in the first of three Tests at Loftus on Saturday.
Cronje has moved ahead of De Klerk in the Lions pecking order in Super Rugby this year, and he will get his first crack – just as De Klerk did last year – at Test level on Saturday.
Cronje is one of four debutants in the Springbok side for the clash – the others being Andries Coetzee, Raymond Rhule and Courtnall Skosan.
Speaking in the build-up to the game, Cronje said that he shared a strong friendship with De Klerk.
“Faf and I are great mates, on and off the field,” Cronje said.
“We’re both very supportive of each other. Coach Ackies (Lions coach, Johan Ackermann) obviously believes in that rotational system and when I got an opportunity I believe I took it.
“I’m just excited to be here and see what happens.”
While a Bok debut is always daunting, Cronje can take comfort in the fact that he will have his Lions team-mates Warren Whiteley and Elton Jantjies around him at No 8 and flyhalf, respectively.
“Playing with Wazza (Whiteley) and Elton obviously gives me a lot confidence. I know exactly what they’re about and the type of game they play,” said Cronje.
“However, I believe the team has really gelled well over the last couple of weeks.
“The guys, not just the Lions boys, have made it a lot easier.”
There is another potential debutant on the bench in the form of Stormers wing Dillyn Leyds.
Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:00.
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Dillyn Leyds
15 Brice Dulin, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Henry Chavancy, 12 Gaël Fickou, 11 Virimi Vakatawa, 10 Jules Plisson, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Loann Goujon, 6 Yacouba Camara, 5 Yoann Maestri (captain), 4 Julien le Devedec, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Clément Maynadier, 1 Jefferson Poirot
Substitutes: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Eddy Ben Arous, 18 Mohamed Boughanmi, 19 Bernard le Roux, 20 Kévin Gourdon, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Jean-Marc Doussain, 23 Vincent Rattez