Technically Lionel Mapoe has already made his Springbok debut.
That was last year when he came off the bench deep into the Springboks’ 27-20 defeat to New Zealand at Ellis Park.
But come Saturday at Newlands, he will wear the No.13 Green and Gold jumper for the first time.
And Mapoe can be forgiven for feeling that tomorrow’s match against Ireland will be his first.
Of his inclusion in coach Allister Coetzee’s team, Mapoe jokes: “I told myself this is my second first start. Obviously it’s a big one, and I’m pretty excited and it has to sink in a bit.”
Mapoe has been in sensational form throughout the year for the Lions in Super Rugby and has carved open opposition defences almost at will.
He is, however, aware of the fact that Test match rugby is a little tougher and adds: “It’s not going to be easy. Coming through the provincial season, I just need to build on my form.
“And I know the hard work only starts now for the new journey.”
The 27-year-old will team up with Stormers star Damian de Allende in the midfield for the first time.
It’s a combination that has fans drooling at the thought of what they can do if they gel and hit the ground running.
Of working with De Allende over the past two weeks, Mapoe says: “The last two weeks it [the relationship] has been coming good.
“We haven’t played together, but we found each other well last week.
“He’s been here [at the Springboks] for a while so obviously I can learn a few things from him. He’s a good player.”
While there is nothing better than to see a moment of magic from Mapoe, he won’t go out |pushing for it.
Instead, the team man says: “I can’t just come into the team and do my own thing. I’m a team |player and if the team does well, the individual will shine too.”
15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Damian De Allende, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1Tendai Mtawarira. Bench: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Julian Redelinghuys, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Warren Whiteley, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Jesse Kriel.
15 Jared Payne, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best (captain), 1 Jack McGrath. Bench: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Finlay Bealham, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Craig Gilroy.