Cape Town - The Stormers may be fielding a watered down side against the Sharks on Saturday, but for Nizaam Carr the Super Rugby clash at Kings Park will be one of the highlights of his career.
The 24-year-old will captain a largely inexperienced Stormers outfit after coach Allister Coetzee announced three debutants in his match-day 23 on Thursday.
Robert du Preez will start at fullback while lock Jan de Klerk and scrumhalf Godlen Masimla are in line to win their first Super Rugby caps off the bench. Sikhumbuzo Notshe and hooker Michael Willemse, meanwhile, earn their first starts.
It appears a tough ask for this Stormers team to do the business against what will be an emotionally charged Sharks side bidding farewell to the Du Plessis brothers - Jannie and Bismarck - and Willem Alberts.
Carr, though, is as up for the match as anybody.
“This is going to be one of the biggest matches I’m going to play, leading the side this weekend,” he said.
“It is a huge honour and a privilege... obviously it is a massive task for me ahead. But it’s a bit easier because I’ve got massive leaders on my side. I’ve learnt a lot from Duane Vermeulen, Juan de Jongh and Jean de Villiers.”
Carr added that motivation was never going to be a problem against the Sharks, and he moved away from referring to the Stormers as ‘second string’ this weekend.
“I wouldn’t like to think of it as a B-side,” he said.
“The guys have a great opportunity this weekend. I said to them that the only way we can dominate is if we are prepared and our preparation this week has been great. It is an important one for us to get momentum.
“We’re going for the win, that’s what it is about.”
Coetzee acknowledged that his decision to rest a host of his first choice players for Saturday was part of a plan to ensure that they were in prime condition for the playoffs next weekend.
“A good team, in my opinion, a very good team,” Coetzee said of his squad.
“It’s just about the momentum that we would like to keep in our campaign. We think this is something that you can do.
“It’s not disrespecting anything. It’s about our campaign, about giving our players an opportunity.
“If you have the luxury to do it then I don’t think we should feel guilty about that. We are trying to set ourselves up for the quarter-finals and, who knows, maybe a semi-final and we want to give ourselves the best possible chance to win that and go further in the competition.”
Saturday’s match kicks off at 19:10.
15. Lwazi Mvovo, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. JP Pietersen, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. S’bura Sithole, 10. Lionel Cronje, 9. Stefan Ungerer, 8. Renaldo Bothma, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Marco Wentzel (captain), 4. Etienne Oosthuizen, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16. Franco Marais, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20. Khaya Majola, 21. Conrad Hoffmann, 22. Fred Zeilinga, 23. Heimar Williams
15. Robert du Preez, 14. Johnny Kotze, 13. Huw Jones, 12. Jaco Taute, 11. Pat Howard, 10. Kurt Coleman, 9. Louis Schreuder, 8. Nizaam Carr (captain), 7. Michael Rhodes, 6. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5. Ruan Botha, 4. Jean Kleyn, 3. Vincent Koch, 2. Michael Willemse, 1. Oli Kebble
Substitutes: 16. Neil Rautenbach, 17. Ali Vermaak, 18. Wilco Louw, 19. Jan de Klerk, 20. Siya Kolisi, 21. Godlen Masimla, 22. Seabelo Senatla, 23. Kobus van Wyk