Sharks coach Robert du Preez has included four youngsters in his 25-man squad for the match against the Sunwolves in Singapore on Saturday.
Eighthman Phepsi Buthelezi, who captained the Sharks U19 side to the championship last year, is joined by hooker Kerron van Vuuren, as well as wing Aphelele Fassi and prop Khutha Mchunu, who played in the Currie Cup last year.
All four youngsters have been heavily involved in the Sharks pre-season preparations and get their chance for further involvement in a strong squad.
However, Curwin Bosch and Marius Louw, who were initially in the tour squad, have stayed behind due to slight niggles. Louis Schreuder has recovered sufficiently from an illness that kept him out of the friendly against the Vodacom Bulls.
‘Starting the tournament on a high is very important, we don’t want to play catch-up rugby,’ said Sharks prop Coenie Oosthuizen. ‘This is not an easy game for us, especially not there in Singapore, it’s like playing the Cheetahs – you don’t go to Bloemfontein and win easily. We expect them to put up a fight physically, they maul well, they can stand up to any pack, it’s what we expect from any South African team.
‘Underestimating the Sunwolves is one of the biggest mistakes a team can make.’
Sharks – Akker van der Merwe, Andre Esterhuizen, Aphelele Fassi, Cameron Wright, Coenie Oosthuizen, Daniel du Preez, Gideon Koegelenberg, Hyron Andrews, Jacques Vermeulen, Jeremy Ward, Juan Schoeman, Kerron van Vuuren, Khutha Mchunu, Louis Schreuder (c), Lukhanyo Am, Lwazi Mvovo, Makazole Mapimpi, Phepsi Buthelezi, Rhyno Smith, Robert du Preez, Ruan Botha, Sbu Nkosi, Beast Mtawarira, Tyler Paul, Wian Vosloo.
Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images