Durban - Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold says that his team is excited by testing themselves against seven-time Super Rugby champions Crusaders at Kings Park on Saturday.
His team go into the clash boosted by the return of the Springbok trio of Marcell Coetzee, Cobus Reinach and Patrick Lambie to the starting XV.
Last week’s Man of the Match, Renaldo Bothma, and Conrad Hoffmann shift to the bench, with hooker Franco Marais and prop Matt Stevens joining them.
Lambie will take over the captaincy from Jean Deysel, who in turn stood in for Bismarck du Plessis, who is currently suspended.
The Sharks do not have a great record against their counterparts from Christchurch, winning only four of the 19 encounters between the teams, but do boast the record of scoring the most points against the New Zealanders in their Super Rugby history - a 58-26 win in 1996.
Gold admits that despite coming off a defeat to the Bulls in round seven of the competition, the Crusaders will still offer the sternest of tests to his charges.
"The Crusaders are a fantastic team, loaded with All Blacks.
"They have not won this competition as many times as they have by accident.
"They can never be taken lightly and we all know what a dangerous side they are when they hit their straps.
"It's fantastic to play against a team of this quality; every team wants to be measured against the best.
"We are confident with our group of players and are excited about the match-up this weekend."
Kick-off for Saturday's encounter is scheduled for 15:00.
15. SP Marais, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. JP Pietersen, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Pat Lambie (captain), 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Marco Wentzel, 4. Mouritz Botha, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Kyle Cooper, 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16. Franco Marais, 17. Thomas du Toit, 18. Matt Stevens, 19. Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20. Renaldo Bothma, 21. Conrad Hoffmann, 22. Fred Zeilinga, 23. Waylon Murray
15 Israel Dagg, 14 David Havili, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Substitutes: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Richie McCaw, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Tom Taylor, 23 Nafi Tuitavake