Durban - The Cell C Sharks take on French giants Toulon on Thursday evening in the Rugby Masters pre-season friendly at Stade Mayol in their final pre-season warm-up game ahead of the Super Rugby season.
Director of Rugby Gary Gold believes this match against the reigning European champions provides the ideal final preparation for his team ahead of next weekend’s Super Rugby opener against the Cheetahs at Kings Parks.
“This match (against Toulon) is going to be the first really competitive game of the season, and we’re up against a team that has qualified for the Heineken Cup (European Champions Cup) quarter-finals already,” Gold told the Sharks website.
“Yes, they will be more prepared than us and more game ready than us, that’s the challenge we face. But the reason why we wanted to be here is to put ourselves under this kind of pressure.
“It’s going to be a massive challenge, one we’re very excited about. I’m really happy that we are going to be playing such a quality team.”
Gold named his best possible side for the clash.
The team will be captained by Bismarck du Plessis and includes other current Boks in Lwazi Mvovo, Pat Lambie, Cobus Reinach, Marcell Coetzee and Tendai Mtawarira.
Lock Pieter-Steph du Toit will make his long-awaited return from injury, with former England lock Mouritz Botha making his Sharks debut.
Of the Sharks' first-choice team, only Frans Steyn (on duty in Japan), Willem Alberts, Jannie du Plessis (both working back towards full fitness) and Thomas du Toit (injured) are missing.
The match will be broadcast live on DSTV (channel SS1) from 21:50 on Thursday evening.
15 Juan Martin Hernández, 14 Joshua Tuisova, 13 Bryan Habana, 12 Jimmy Yoboo, 11 David Smith, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, 6 Gerhard Vosloo, 5 Jocelino Suta, 4 Ali Williams, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Jean-Charles Orioli, 1 Xavier Chiocci
Substitutes: 16 Matias Cortese, 17 Florian Fresia, 18 Corentin Braendlin, 19 Steffon Armitage, 20 Virgile Bruni, 21 Ulupano Seuteni, 22 Eric Escande, 23 Karim Bougherara, 24 Andy Cramond, 25 Stephane Munoz
15 SP Marais, 14 S’bura Sithole, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Heimar Williams, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Tera Mtembu, 7 Renaldo Bothma, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Monde Hadebe, 20 Marco Wentzel, 21 Etienne Oosthuizen, 22 Andre Esterhuizen, 23 Paul Perez, 24 Odwa Ndungane, 25 Conrad Hoffmann, 26 Fred Zeilinga