Nelspruit - Flanker Brian Shabangu earns a deserved opportunity to lead a Pumas side featuring some new combinations for their Currie Cup clash against Western Province at Newlands on Saturday (13:00 kick-off).
Due to two games being played within three days of each other, Pumas coach Brent Janse van Rensburg is experiencing some selection challenges.
This presents opportunities for players who have not had the same amount of game time to stand up and be counted.
Shabangu, who has donned the Pumas jersey 32 times during the last three seasons, leads a team with a number of Currie Cup debutants, including flanker Chris Cloete.
Cloete, who starred for the Kings in Super Rugby, has been named on the bench for the second week running, however he had to withdraw from last weekend's game against the Sharks due to illness.
Lock Cameron Lindsay and flanker Stefan Willemse, two other new recruits from the Kings, will make their Currie Cup debuts for the Pumas, along with Cloete, Willie Engelbrecht, Kobus Marais and scrumhalf Theo Maree.
Maree, who has been named as Reynier van Rooyen’s understudy, is on loan from the Blue Bulls.
Van Rooyen is the senior citizen amongst an inexperienced backline with 71 games under his belt.
Sias Ebersohn, who played at fullback and flyhalf in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge, will start at inside centre to relieve the pressure on Kobus Marais.
Loosehead prop De-Jay Terblanche will be playing his 165th game in the Pumas which makes him the second most experienced player ever for the Pumas/South Eastern Transvaal.
Flanker Francois Rossouw is still the record holder in 183, followed by Terblanche on 164 and Corne Steenkamp on 159.
15 SP Marais, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Damian Willemse (Western Province debut), 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Steph de Wit, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl (captain), 3 Frans van Wyk, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ali Vermaak
Substitutes: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 Johan du Toit, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Michal Hazner
15 Devon Williams, 14 Jean-Paul Lewis, 13 Gerrit Smith, 12 Sias Ebersohn, 11 Ruwellyn Isbell, 10 Kobus Marais, 9 Reynier van Rooyen, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Brian Shabangu (captain), 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 Jacques Kotze, 2 Mark Pretorius, 1 De-Jay Terblanche.
Substitutes: 16 Frank Herne, 17 Louis Albertse, 18 Jannie Stander, 19 Chris Cloete, 20 Theo Maree, 21 Justin van Staden, 22 Jerome Pretorius