Kimberley - The Griquas will not underestimate the Sharks when the two sides clash in round one of the Currie Cup competition on Saturday in Kimberley, despite a lack of Springboks in the visitors' side.
"They may be without their Springboks, but we still know that we are in for a big game," Griquas coach Hawies Fourie said.
The Durban-based team travel to the City of Diamonds without stalwarts Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Patrick Lambie, Tendai Mtawarira, Lwazi Mvovo and Cobus Reinach, who are all involved with the national side for the Rugby Championship.
The Peacock Blues have retained much the same side which won this year's Vodacom Cup competition, and cemented their spot in the Premier Division after an undefeated round of qualifying matches.
Heralded as the favourites for the clash, particularly with their home ground advantage, Fourie was adamant they would not look at the visitors as anything less than worthy opponents.
"The Sharks have good depth and will definitely pose a big threat.
"We are lucky that we have good momentum thanks to our good performance in the Vodacom Cup and qualifiers, but we still need to go out there and perform."
The one position where the Sharks are considered vulnerable is at scrumhalf, where youngster Cameron Wright makes his dbut for the visitors. He will come up against Griquas Tian Meyer, who has a wealth of experience after moving from the Lions to the Kimberley side.
Both Wright and Sharks loose head prop Thomas du Toit were on the school benches last year and the latter will be put to the test against Maks van Dyk, who recently played Super Rugby for the Cheetahs.
"We don't target individuals in any of our games. Instead, we focus on what we need to do as a team. Obviously we fancy a game plan where we use our forwards a lot and that is something that we seldom differ from," Fourie said.
The Sharks can still tap into the experience of Kyle Cooper, Fred Zeilinga, Paul Jordaan and SP Marais which could be enough to thwart a Griquas side with heaps of momentum and the hunger to prove their inclusion in the top league is warranted.
Over the last couple of years, encounters between the two sides have gone both ways, whether the games were played in Kimberley or in Durban.
Both teams have won four encounters each since 2010 and Sharks coach Brad Mcleod-Henderson said Saturday's game could go either way.
"We know that a huge task awaits us in Kimberley. We are under no illusion as to what to expect from Griquas," he said.
"But we are enthusiastic and look forward to getting the series underway and prove ourselves."