Pieter-Steph du Toit will start in the second row for the Sharks against the Cheetahs at Kings Park on Saturday.
The lock missed most of last year's Vodacom Super Rugby campaign with a knee injury in a blow for both the Sharks and the Springboks. However, the 22-year-old has come through the pre-season unscathed and will start alongside new recruit Mouritz Botha in a sturdy looking second row. They will pack down behind the all-Bok front row of Beast Mtawarira and the Du Plessis brothers.
Elsewhere in the pack, Renaldo Bothma will make his competitive debut at blindside flank, with Marcell Coetzee and Currie Cup captain Tera Mtembu rounding out the loose trio.
Among the backs, Waylon Murray will return to the ground where he made his name at outside centre, and is paired with Heimar Williams. The Bok duo of Cobus Reinach and Pat Lambie will be looking to dictate the game for the home side.
'The Cheetahs are, for me, one of the most dangerous sides to play against and on their day they have the ability to beat any team,' said coach Gary Gold ahead of his first game in charge. 'We are expecting a physical battle against a well-coached team, who have some exciting young players in their squad.
'Our guys have prepared well for the tournament and there's a fantastic spirit in the camp. We want to play an exciting brand of rugby that our fans demand and score tries.
'The only way to win matches is to score tries and to score tries you need to keep the ball in hand. Our players are determined and will give nothing less than 100% effort on the park.'
Sharks – 15 SP Marais, 14 S’bura Sithole, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Heimar Williams, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Tera Mtembu, 7 Renaldo Bothma, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Marco Wentzel, 20 Jean Deysel, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Fred Zeilinga, 23 Odwa Ndungane.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images