Sharks boss Gary Gold has welcomed back several players to his starting XV named to play the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday.
Gold has been able to select his Springbok front row for the first time in six weeks to bolster the pack upfront, while Francois Steyn and Renaldo Bothma also return to the starting line-up.
The big, physical players are expected to play a big role on the weekend against the tabletoppers.
“The Hurricanes are a team on an absolute high at the moment, their performance against the Crusaders was outstanding and this is probably going to be a big challenge for our players at this moment in time, with our backs against the wall,” explains Gold.
“We’re playing the best team in the competition, it’s going to be an unbelievable challenge, but one that’s going to make us grow as a group.”
Lwazi Mvovo has moved to full-back, a straight swap with Odwa Ndungane while Lionel Cronje wears the number 10 jersey, partnering Stefan Ungerer who gets his first start at scrum-half.
“From our point of view, we need to concentrate on the things we can do well, we know we have the ability to do well, even though we haven’t done it very often. But we’re a proud bunch of guys and this is an opportunity against the odds to step up to the plate.”
Sharks: 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Francois Steyn, 11 S'bura Sithole, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Etienne Oosthuizen, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Marco Wentzel (c), 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Kyle Cooper, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Andre Esterhuizen, 23 Waylon Murray.
Date: Saturday, 9 May
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 19:35 local (07:35 GMT, 17:35 AEST, 09:35 SAST)
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand), Michael Lash (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)