The Lions have boasted the form scrum in the Currie Cup this season and that has prompted Macleod-Henderson to return Du Toit to the loosehead prop position and also choose an entire front-row on the bench, with England and British Lions international Stevens joining Dale Chadwick and either Monde Hadebe or Franco Marais amongst the replacements.
Hadebe has been bracketed with hooker Kyle Cooper, who needs to pass a fitness test on a knee injury, in the starting line-up.
“The Lions have a strong scrum, they’ve enjoyed great continuity from SuperRugby and they like to play an exciting brand of rugby and keep the ball in hand. We will need to sort our scrum out, defensively we will need to be strong and we’ll look for a few chinks in their armour that we’ll try to exploit.
“But the Lions have really set the Currie Cup alight since the first round, so we know we’ve got a huge challenge on our hands and we are looking forward to it,” Macleod-Henderson said on Wednesday.
The Sharks tight five has also been boosted by the return to the starting line-up of Springbok Stephan Lewies, relegating the promising JC Astle to the bench, while veteran flank Jacques Botes is also back for a match that will also be a tribute for the most-capped Currie Cup player ever on potentially his last game at King’s Park.
“I said earlier in the week that the word legend is maybe used too often these days, but Jacques is really a legend both on the field and off it. As a team man, I don’t think you’ll find better anywhere in the world. We’ll be going out to make sure he ends with a victory,” Macleod-Henderson said.
A new-look bench, split five-two between forwards and backs, also features the return of flyhalf Fred Zeilinga to the match-day squad, the 21-year-old being chosen ahead of Tim Swiel.
The release of wing Lwazi Mvovo from the Springboks means the Sharks will field the same backline that shone in beating the EP Kings 53-24 last weekend.
Victory for the third-placed Sharks, who trail the Lions by five points, is obviously crucial if the Durbanites are to have any chance of hosting a semi-final.
Sharks team: 15-SP Marais, 14-S’bura Sithole, 13-Paul Jordaan, 12-Andre Esterhuizen, 11-Lwazi Mvovo, 10-Lionel Cronje, 9-Cameron Wright, 8-Tera Mtembu, 7-Etienne Oosthuizen, 6-Jacques Botes, 5-Marco Wentzel, 4-Stephan Lewies, 3-Lourens Adriaanse, 2-Kyle Cooper/Monde Hadebe, 1-Thomas du Toit. Replacements – 16-Monde Hadebe/Franco Marais, 17-Dale Chadwick, 18-Matt Stevens, 19-JC Astle, 20-Khaya Majola, 21-Conrad Hoffmann, 22-Fred Zeilinga.