Despite all the talk about scoring tries, the Cell C Sharks will be putting their faith in the expertise of their tight five, judging by the team announced yesterday for their opening Vodacom SuperRugby match against the Toyota Cheetahs in Durban on Saturday.
Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Mouritz Botha and Pieter-Steph du Toit will all be bringing international experience to the field and coach Gary Gold will be hoping they will be laying the most solid of foundations.
Marcell Coetzee is the senior loose forward, with Pumas import Renaldo Bothma getting a SuperRugby debut and Tera Mtembu slotting in at eighthman. Willem Alberts and lock Stephan Lewies are still out with injury.
Pat Lambie and Cobus Reinach form an outstanding halfback pairing, but Gold has a less settled combination at centre. Waylon Murray was born in Durban and schooled at Westville, but has played most of his recent rugby outside the province and he returns to the outside centre berth, with young Heimar Williams alongside him, preferred to exciting young powerhouse Andre Esterhuizen.
SP Marais will be at fullback, but perhaps the Sharks’ greatest attacking threat will be from wings Lwazi Mvovo and S’bura Sithole.
Jean Deysel is on the bench and is the only one of the Japanese-based players to make the match-day squad, with the return of Frans Steyn and JP Pietersen keenly awaited as they will give the backline the experience that is currently lacking in comparison to the tight five.
Matt Stevens, the former British Lions prop, is also on the bench, as is the veteran wing Odwa Ndungane.
The match will be refereed by the Australian, Andrew Lees, and the kick-off is at 5.05pm.