Durban - The Sharks will play two different teams in their Super Rugby warm-up clash against the Bulls in Polokwane on Saturday.
Coach Robert du Preez on Friday announced a first half team and a second half team for the encounter at the Peter Mokaba Stadium.
Both teams have been shuffled, with a mixture of youth and experience.
Lock Ruan Botha, who was on Thursday named as the Sharks’ captain for the season, will lead the first half team, with hooker Franco Marais captaining in the second half.
“I thought Ruan did a sterling job for us in the Currie Cup, leading us to the final,” Du Preez told the Sharks’ official website.
“He’s grown as a captain and has the full support of the management as well as the players.”
Du Preez admitted that he expected a huge amount of competition in the squad.
“The young players have trained hard and won’t look out of place in Super Rugby.”
This poses a few selection headaches for the coach, but welcome ones.
“Our success is dependent on how well we utilise our squad. Potentially 38 players will be involved in Super Rugby so there are opportunities for everyone.”
In terms of how Super Rugby preparations are going, Du Preez explained “I believe we’re a much fitter team this year than last. We’re also better in terms of rugby related training and preparation. We spent a lot of time on the players from a conditioning point of view but also as far as skill development goes.”
Du Preez explained that his goals for the two matches against the Bulls and Racing 92 (in Hong Kong on February 3) are to assess where the team is insofar as their pre-season goals go.
“I would like to see that the stuff we’ve worked hard on is shown in the games. A big focus is on scoring more tries in Super Rugby and we want to see where we’re at. You can practice as much and as hard as you want to, but when it comes to the real thing, it’s a bit different in the game scenario.
“I’m also not too concerned about the results of the warm-up games, but I want to gauge how far we are in terms of our conditioning levels.”
Saturday’s clash against the Bulls kicks off at 18:00.
First half: 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Jeremy Ward, 11 S'busiso Nkosi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Ruan Botha (captain), 4 Hyron Andrews, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Juan Schoeman
Second half: 15 Garth April, 14 Makazole Mapimpi, 13 Tristan Blewett, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Courtney Winnaar, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Tera Mtembu, 7 Wian Vosloo, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Gideon Koegelenberg, 3 John-Hubert Meyer, 2 Franco Marais (captain), 1 Mzamo Majola
Extra players: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Khuta Mchunu
15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Burger Odendaal (captain), 11 Jade Stighling, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Aston Fortuin, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Frans van Wyk, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Eli Snyman, 20 Jano Venter, 21 Roelof Smit, 22 Andre Warner, 23 Marnitz Boshoff, 24 Franco Naude, 25 Jamba Ulengo, 26 Duncan Matthews