Durban - The Sharks begin the post-Jake White era and at the same time bid farewell to one of their favourite sons of the past decade, Jacques Botes, when they host the Golden Lions in a crunch Currie Cup encounter in Durban on Friday.
Director of rugby and the Springboks' 2007 World Cup-winning coach, White shocked the KwaZulu-Natal franchise when he quit earlier this week, although his involvement had been minimal in the domestic competition as assistant Brad MacLeod-Henderson took charge.
The news had disrupted what was meant to be a celebratory week for the union ahead of loose forward Botes' swansong at Kings Park after exactly 10 years of service.
At the same time, the match is of extreme importance for the defending champions as they aim to keep their slender hopes of a home semifinal alive.
"It was a big announcement about Jake, but we have a big game on Friday night and we're looking forward to that," MacLeod-Henderson said earlier in the week.
"The announcement was made, we had a chat about it and now all the attention's really on the game."
The Sharks have to win both remaining games - the other is against the table-topping Western Province - of the regular season, possibly even with bonus points, and hope the second-placed Lions slip up.
However, the men from Johannesburg have been in outstanding form during 2014.
"The Lions are one of the front-runners in the competition, and they have really set the Currie Cup alight since the first round," MacLeod-Henderson said.
"They had some good continuity from Super Rugby. They have a strong pack of forwards, they've got a good scrum, a good maul, they like to play rugby, they like to keep the ball, they like to put the ball through phases and put pressure on you defensively, so we know we're going to have to be strong up front.
"And defensively we're going to have to put up a good performance. It's going to be a huge challenge."
The Sharks boss, nonetheless, hoped they could carry their form from recent weeks into the clash.
"We've played nicely the last two-and-a-half games, we've been really comfortable with our performances and we're looking forward to this game."
Botes was described by MacLeod-Henderson as a "legend" of Sharks rugby earlier in the week and the flanker will play his 154th Currie Cup game -- the most by any player -- after he was named among three changes to the starting XV this week.
He replaced Khaya Majola in the number six jersey after recovering from injury, while lock Stephan Lewies and prop Thomas du Toit are both back from the crocked list in place of JC Astle and Dale Chadwick respectively.
Lions coach Johan Ackermann has made six alterations to his line-up, bringing back Stokkies Hanekom at centre and Bok flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff at number 10.
Among the forwards, Schalk van der Merwe, Robbie Coetzee and Ruan Dreyer form an all-new frontrow, with Willie Britz in at number eight.
15. SP Marais, 14. S'bura Sithole, 13. Paul
Jordaan, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Lionel Cronje, 9.
Cameron Wright, 8. Tera Mtembu (captain), 7. Etienne Oosthuizen, 6.
Jacques Botes, 5. Marco Wentzel, 4. Stephan Lewies, 3. Lourens
Adriaanse, 2. Kyle Cooper / Monde Hadebe, 1. Thomas du Toit
16. Monde Hadebe / Franco Marais, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Matt Stevens,
19. JC Astle, 20. Khaya Majola, 21. Conrad Hoffmann, 22. Fred Zeilinga
Andries Coetzee, 14. Ruan Combrinck, 13. Lionel Mapoe (captain), 12.
Stokkies Hanekom, 11. Courtnall Skosan, 10. Marnitz Boshoff, 9. Ross
Cronje, 8. Willie Britz, 7. Warwick Tecklenburg, 6. Jaco Kriel, 5.
Franco Mostert, 4. Martin Muller, 3. Ruan Dreyer, 2. Robbie Coetzee, 1.
Schalk van der Merwe
Substitutes: 16. Armand van der Merwe, 17.
Julian Redelinghuys, 18. Jacques van Rooyen, 19. Derick Minnie, 20.
Kwagga Smith, 21. Mark Richards, 22. Howard Mnisi