Cape Town - Patrick Lambie will lead a strong Sharks team against Toulon in a Vodacom Super Rugby warm-up game on Friday night but there are some key squad members, including newcomer Willie le Roux, who won’t be playing.
The Sharks have announced that Springbok stars Le Roux, who has switched from the Cheetahs to the KwaZulu-Natal franchise this season, and Marcell Coetzee have stayed behind in Durban to work on their conditioning rather than travel to France with the extended squad. They may, according to SuperSport.com, be available for the second match of the tour.
However, there is a first Sharks start for another former Cheetahs Bok in the form of prop Coenie Oosthuizen, while former Stormers and Western Province lock Ruan Botha packs down in the second row.
The promising young Du Preez brothers, Dan and Jean-Luc, will get their first opportunities in the Sharks Super Rugby squad in the absence of Jean Deysel and Keegan Daniel, with the latter having been announced as the most recent Sharks signing earlier in the week. Former Sharks captain Daniel will be available shortly after spending two seasons in Japan.
It will also be the first starting opportunity in the Sharks’ Super Rugby side for Joe Pietersen, who moved from Bloemfontein to Durban ahead of the last Currie Cup season.
Paul Jordaan gets to start at outside centre in an early season game for the first time in a while after being plagued by injuries in recent years. A strong showing from him in the initial games will boost the Sharks’ confidence about their ability to get it together in the backline.
“This weekend’s game is a nice opportunity to test ourselves and see how far we’ve come with what has been quite a lengthy pre-season,” said Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold.
“We’ve selected a strong side against what should be a good Toulon side.”
It is true that the team that has been selected gives a good indication of what the Sharks side will look like as the union heads into a new era post the departure of Springboks such as the Frans Steyn, Willem Alberts and Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis, but what should be heartening is that it could still be strengthened considerably.
Apart from Le Roux and Coetzee, there are a clutch of other players missing, such as Deysel, Daniel and lock Stefan Lewies.
Sharks team: 15.Joe Pietersen, 14.Lwazi Mvovo, 13.Paul Jordaan, 12.Andre Esterhuizen, 11.Odwa Ndungane, 10.Pat Lambie (captain), 9.Cobus Reinach, 8.Daniel du Preez, 7.Jean-Luc du Preez, 6.Francois Kleinhans, 5.Ruan Botha, 4.Etienne Oosthuizen, 3.Coenie Oosthuizen, 2.Kyle Cooper, 1.Tendai Mtawarira.
Substitutes: 16.Francois Marais, 17.Juan Schoeman, 18.Lourens Adriaanse, 19.Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20.Dave McDuling, 21.Hyron Andrews, 22.Stefan Ungerer, 23.Michael Claassens, 24.Garth April, 25.Heimar Williams, 26.Johan Deysel, 27.Wandile Mjekevu, 28.S’bura Sithole.