The arrival of Perpignan flyhalf Steve Meyer and the continued selection of Willem Alberts headline a much-changed Sharks team for their Super 14 pre-season tri-series encounter with the Stormers at Newlands on Friday.
Despite the formal investigation launched by the South African Rugby Union, following a complaint form the Lions, Sharks coach John Plumtree named Alberts at No.8 in his starting XV of the team to face the Stormers.
The side shows nine changes from that which was smashed (26-0) by the Western Force earlier this week – six of those changes to the pack.
But it is the arrival of Meyer, as replacement for injured Argentinean flyhalf Juan Hernandez, that will add spice to what has become one of the most anticipated local derbies.
Meyer, a 25-year-old from Durban, joined Perpignan three seasons ago, but has suffered injury and then, since recovering, has found it hard to get game time as his compatriot Gavin Hume, more usually a centre, has established himself at flyhalf.
Now, re-signed by the Sharks, he gets a shot to show that he is worth the hype that accompanied his return to Durban – when he plays off the bench at Newlands.
The changes to the starting XV will see talented youngster Patrick Lambie start at fullback in place of Stefan Terblanche, JP Pietersen on the wing for Luzuko Vulindlu and fellow Springbok Odwa Ndungane on the other wing for Lwazi Mvovo.
Alberts start at No.8 ahead of Bok loose forward Ryan Kankowski, another Lions import Gerhard Mostert at lock for Steven Sykes, veteran Johann Muller in place of Bok tourist Alistair Hargreaves in the second row, John Smit starting at tighthead and Jannie du Plessis moving across to loosehead prop, while his brother and fellow Bok Bismarck du Plessis starts at hooker ahead of Craig Burden.
Tendai Mtawarira joins the extended replacement bench.
The only players missing the game through injury are flank Jacques Botes and utility back Adi Jacobs.
Sharks coach John Plumtree said his team will look at improving in a number of areas, following their disappointing whitewash at the hands of the Force earlier this week.
“We are also looking at certain combinations,” Plumtree told rugby365.com, when asked about his goals for Friday’s outing.
“We are still in preparations mode,” he said, adding: “The Stormers will be more ready to go [for the Super 14 season].”
The Sharks: 15 Patrick Lambie, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Odwa Ndungane, 10 Monty Dumond, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Gerhard Mostert, 4 Johann Muller, 3 John Smit (captain), 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Jannie du Plessis.
Replacements – from: Stefan Terblanche, Luzuko Vulindlu, Riaan Swanepoel, Lwazi Mvovo, Ryan Kankowski, Steven Sykes, Alistair Hargreaves, Craig Burden, Tendai Mtawarira, Charl McLeod, Steve Meyer, Patric Cilliers.
Date: Friday, January 29
Venue: Newlands, Cape Town
Kick-off: 19.00 (17.00 GMT)
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant referees: Joey Salmans, Matt Kemp
TMO: Shaun Veldsman