Cape Town - Western Province are relishing the prospect of playing on a firm artificial surface unaffected by the prevailing weather conditions on Sunday when they face Premiership side Saracens for the Sanlam Challenge Shield at Allianz Park, North London.
The field at the state-of-the-art stadium is a synthetic pitch that has been hailed as a game-changing addition to rugby.
Edward Griffiths, Saracens' chief executive and former SARU CEO, said artificial turf transformed hockey a couple of decades ago and it would do the same for rugby.
"It will encourage a faster, safer and more entertaining game of rugby," said Griffiths.
WP coach Allister Coetzee said the thought of playing on an artificial surface had made the WP players excited.
"It is interesting that it will be the first time we'll be playing on a synthetic surface. But from what we've seen, it's quite good conditions underfoot and a bit of a faster track than normal, so we're looking forward to play on that surface," said Coetzee.
"We will really be playing the way we have played.
"But it's not going to be a game where we will just go and throw the ball around. It's a proper game."
Although Saracens have several players away on international duty, their starting XV for Sunday's match still includes as many as 10 internationals, including former WP scrumhalf Neil de Kock, and their skipper and ex-Springbok lock Alistair Hargreaves.
Coetzee believes that with this calibre of player to call on, Saracens would be tough at set-piece time.
"Traditionally Northern Hemisphere teams will test you at set-piece, that's a massive thing," said Coetzee.
"They are a good contesting side, at scrums as well as lineouts. You cannot play without good, quality first-phase possession, so it's going to be a good game, a game of good standard."
WP have come straight out of the Currie Cup season but Saracens are expecting to face a team of near Super Rugby strength.
"We're really excited by the chance to play against Western Province, and the nucleus of the Stormers team that has historically competed so strongly in the Super XV," said Mark McCall, Saracens' Director of Rugby. ''They come to us with high confidence after finishing a strong season with some much deserved silverware.
"We know that we have to be at our very best if we are to overcome a well drilled and in-form team."
Coetzee said WP's management would be alert to efforts to poach players while they are in England.
"There is always the danger that if one of two players play really well, they could be approached with offers, so that's something we have to be aware of. The pound is very strong and offers can be very attractive for our players," said Coetzee.
Almost as soon as WP arrived in London,Griquas announced that centre Michael van der Spuy and hooker Stephan Coetzee have been signed up for the 2015 season.Teams:
15 Ben Ransom, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Tim Streather, 12 Chris Wyles, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Kelly Brown, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 Alistair Hargreaves (captain), 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Jamie George, 1 Rhys Gill
Substitutes: 16 Brett Sharman, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Hayden Smith, 20 Will Fraser, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Nils Mordt, 23 Duncan Taylor
15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh (captain), 12 Jaco Taute, 11 Pat Howard, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Alistair Vermaak
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Gerbrandt Grobler, 20 Jurie van Vuuren, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Michael van der Spuy, 24 EW Viljoen