Sharks coach John Plumtree has named a strong squad with a number of big names in the mix to take on the Pumas in their last warm-up game in Nelspruit on Friday.
The Sharks have been struck-down with major injuries to captain Keegan Daniel and Tim Whitehead during the week, and both will be out for lengthy periods, but the side selected seems to be able to hold the weight of the losses.
In the forwards Francois Kleinhans comes into the squad as Daniel falls away, but the Sharks have got ample back-up in the loose forward department.
Plumtree has not selected either Willem Alberts or Marcell Coetzee who both are still suffering from injury. Alberts has got a shoulder complaint and Coetzee picked up a knock against the Pumas after he was not initially named in the squad. It seems that leaving these two behind is just a precaution.
The coach has selected the same starting loose trio as their previous game against the Leopards but has not selected Ryan Kankowski in the squad.
"We want him [Kankowski] to have a week of weights training to get his strength up 10-15 percent for next week.
"He's obviously a very important player with Keegan out so we want to get him back to top shape," explained coach John Plumtree.
One player that Plumtree will be hoping to make an impression this season is the young Pieter-Steph Du Toit who is versatile enough to cover both lock as well as flank which helps in the later stages of the tournament.
The depth in the centres is another area that Plumtree should not feel too worried about as the exciting Paul Jordaan comes into the starting XV in place of Whitehead with the experienced Meyer Bosman on the bench as replacement.
The Sharks had a good first hit-out against the Leopards and will want to use this final preparation as a chance to iron out the final creases before they play the Cheetahs in their opening Super Rugby fixture next weekend.
This match will also give a number of players the opportunity to catch the eye of the coach and stake a claim in the match-day 22 for their opening fixture. This includes loose forward Lubabalo ‘Tera’ Mtembu who had a strong game on Friday night in Pietermaritzburg.
Francois Steyn has been named as the interim captain of the Sharks side in the absence of Keegan Daniel.
The Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Francois Steyn (captain), 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Lubabalo Mtembu, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Jannie du Plessis 2 Craig Burden, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Francois Kleinhans, 21 Charl McLeod, 22 Meyer Bosman, 23 Odwa Ndungane, 24 Riaan Viljoen.
Date: Friday, February 15
Venue: KaNyamazane Stadium, Nelspruit
Kick-off: 19.00 (17.00 GMT)
Referee: Craig Joubert
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