Cape Town - Rushing Pat Lambie back into the starting line-up for this weekend's Super Rugby clash against the Hurricanes was always going be a big call.
Instead, Sharks coach Gary Gold has placed his faith in Garth April once again in a move that speaks volumes about how highly he rates the 24-year-old.
Lambie, looking to prove his fitness and worth to new Springbok coach Allister Coetzee, will make his first appearance of the season off the bench.
It is a potential 'do-or-die' clash for the Sharks, and quite possibly the biggest test yet for April.
Lambie was set be Gold's first-choice pivot this season, but when he was ruled out that responsibility fell to the experienced Joe Pietersen.
April was promoted to the bench as a result, and he has since dislodged Pietersen to make the No 10 jersey his own.
Of course, once Lambie is back to full fitness April will have to make way, but before then there is the small matter up squaring off against Beauden Barrett and the Hurricanes.
It is a match that seems crucial to the Sharks' play-off hopes, and it will surely be the biggest match of April's young career.
"I think he’s stepped up to the plate and we’re really happy with his progress. I have no doubt he’s going to be a great rugby player. He’s a 10 and 15 and a good goal kicker as well," Gold said of the 24-year-old April.
"We have a responsibility with these players and you don’t
want to throw somebody into the deep end.
"Garth had shown such great
progression over the end of last year. I felt I had made an error in not giving
him more time in the Currie Cup … Super Rugby is a step up.
"He got into the mix with us a lot earlier because of
Pat’s injury but the timing was right … he had been training with us for a number
Lambie, meanwhile, has just three games before the June Tests against Ireland.
But, for now, the focus is completely on getting the Sharks back into playoff contention.
A loss on Saturday makes that look a tall order going forward, but Gold insists he is not paying any attention to the logs.
"I don’t think there’s any pressure from a log point of view.
Maybe there’s pressure from our point of view," he said.
"We don’t really want to come
away from playing the five New Zealand teams with only one win to show for it.
We want to be hugely competitive.
"The log can’t be of consequence to us because
there’s 60% of the stuff on the log that we’ve got no control over, so it’s
irrelevant being worried about that."
Beast Mtawarira will take over from Keegan Daniel as match-day skipper, though Gold confirmed that Lambie would assume that role once he was restored to the starting lineup.
Kick-off on Saturday is at 15:00.
15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12, Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, Garth April, 9 Michael Claassen, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Stephen Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Tendai Mtawarira (captain)
Substitutes: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Jean Deysel, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Odwa Ndungane
15 James Marshall, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Vince Aso, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (captain), 1 Reg Goodes
Substitutes: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Ben May, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Blade Thomson, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ngani Laumape, 23 Jason Woodward