Joe Pietersen, Wandile Mjekevu and Philip van der Walt have been named in the Sharks’ starting XV for Friday’s clash with the Pumas in Nelspruit.
While Pietersen (full-back), Mjekevu (outside centre) and Van der Walt (number eight) are in the run-on side for the Durban-based outfit’s tournament opener, Dave McDuling (lock) and Michael Claassens (scrumhalf) are both named on the bench.
They all bring plenty of experience and guidance to the Sharks and head coach Gary Gold feels the team’s youngsters, who now have an opportunity to shine on the big stage, will have an abundance of energy and enthusiasm.
“We had a good pre-season and I am happy with the composition of our team,” said Gold.
“There is some exciting young talent coming through the ranks and guys like Stefan Ungerer, Daniel and Jean-Luc du Preez, Monde Hadebe, Khaya Majola, Franco Marais and Thomas du Toit will be given their opportunities during the course of this campaign.”
Sharks: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 S’bura Sithole, 13 Wandile Mjekevu, 12 Heimar Williams, 11 Andre Esterhuizen, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Khaya Majola, 5 Marco Wentzel (c), 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Monde Hadebe, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Dave McDuling, 19 Daniel du Preez, 20 Francois Kleinhans, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 SP Marais.