Cape Town - Coach Gary Gold says he has never seen Jean Deysel in better shape, but there is still no room in Friday night's match-day 23 for the Sharks bruiser.
The Sharks take on the Bulls at Loftus in a 19:10 kick-off, and an injury to Jean-Luc du Preez has opened up the door for another loose forward to be given a crack this season.
Philip van der Walt moves into the starting line-up in Du Preez's place, but the extra spot on the bench has gone to Keegan Daniel while Deysel must remain patient.
A bicep tear and then an ankle injury combined to set Deysel back somewhat in pre-season - he missed the Sharks tour to France - but the four-Test Springbok is now fit and ready to go.
Gold confirmed to media on Wednesday that Daniel had been given the nod ahead of Deysel because he was more match fit.
"It was a difficult situation. It probably literally just came down to the amount of match fitness over the last couple of months that Keegs has had versus Deysel," said Gold.
"Deysie (Deysel) is in great shape at the moment … the best shape I have seen him in since I started at the Sharks.
"My view wasn’t to just throw him into the deep end. He had a run on the weekend … went really well against Griquas … he’s coming on so well at the moment, I didn’t want to force him.
"Keegs has come here from Japan, match fit, has been at every training session and played on the weekend as well … that’s really what just pipped it."
The Sharks are blessed in the loose forward department, with Jacques Potgieter, Terra Mthembu, Renaldo Bothma and Francois Kleinhans all still on the injured list.
"There is no doubt that it is not going to be 15 guys that are going to be able to win games week in and week out … it’s going to have to be a group of as many as 25 or 30 guys," said Gold.
"The more guys you get into the mix … you want them chomping at the bit.
"For us it is a nightmare, but let that be the nightmare in my life … that we’ve got five or six loose forwards playing outstanding rugby and I need to pick three of them.
"That is a coach’s dream nightmare … and you’re hoping for that across all positions."
Gold was particularly sympathetic to Mthembu, who had just returned from injury only to be dealt another setback this week.
it rains it pours," said Gold.
"It’s similar to what we’ve had with guys like Deysel and Pieter-Steph (Du Toit) … one step forward and two steps back for the poor guy.
"He was training so well in pre-season … definitely in contention to be selected. Then he does his knee, then goes to rehab and comes back … works hard and then goes and tweaks something on the weekend.
"Luckily it’s not too bad … it’s just a little tweak to the LCL … the good news is that the other tendons that he had repaired in his leg really stood up to what was a big knock.
"Mentally he is a strong character and he probably doesn’t realise it at the time, but these things are making him even stronger. Our hearts go out to him at the moment … it’s a tough time."
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane
Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Nic de Jager, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Jesse Kriel
15. Willie le Roux, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Joe Pietersen, 9. Michael Claassens, 8. Daniel du Preez, 7. Philip van der Walt, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Etienne Oosthuizen, 3. Lourens Adriaanse, 2. Kyle Cooper, 1. Tendai Mtawarira (captain)
Substitutes: 16. Franco Marais, 17. Juan Schoeman, 18. Coenie Oosthuizen, 19. Hyron Andrews, 20. Keegan Daniel, 21. Cobus Reinach, 22. Garth April, 23. Odwa Ndungane