Aphelele Fassi is one of four Vodacom Super Rugby debutants in the Sharks’ match 23 for their game against the Sunwolves in Singapore on Saturday.
The 21-year-old is the only uncapped player in the starting lineup, with hooker Kerron van Vuuren, prop Khutha Mchunu and loose forward Phendulani Buthelezi on the bench.
The rest of the starting backline are all Springboks. Sbu Nkosi and Makazole Mapimpi are the wings, Lukhanyo Am and André Esterhuizen the centre pairing, and Rob du Preez and captain Louis Schreuder the halfback pairing.
In the pack, Dan du Preez, Tyler Paul and Jacques Vermeulen make up the starting loose trio, Ruan Botha joins Hyron Andrews in the second row and props Coenie Oosthuizen and Beast Mtawarira, and hooker Akker van der Merwe form an all-Bok front row.
‘All the youngsters are very excited. They bring a lot of energy, they put a lot of pressure on the guys who have been around a while, so that competition is very healthy,’ said Du Preez. ‘I am sure every one of those players, when given the opportunity, will make the step up.’
‘The conditions will be tough with the humidity, which make rugby difficult, so we’re going to have to do the basics really well,’ he added. ‘Our set piece will have to function, breakdown work is extremely important and we need to be really physical. For us, it’s about going there to win.’
Sharks – 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Rob du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder (c), 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Hyron Andrews, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Akker van Merwe, Tendai Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Phendulani Buthelezi, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Rhyno Smith, 23 Jeremy Ward.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images