Durban - Sharks coach Robert du Preez acknowledges that it was a tough decision choosing his starting line-up for Saturday's Super Rugby opener against the Lions in Johannesburg.
Du Preez's charges will look to beat the Lions for the first time in seven Super Rugby attempts, and he has made some big calls that see Curwin Bosch, Dan du Preez and Tendai Mtawarira all on the bench.
"This squad has worked extremely hard in the pre-season and what’s especially pleasing to see is the vibe and excitement in the group," Du Preez said.
"Every player was given an opportunity during the warm-up games and so many of them put their hands up, which made it extremely difficult to decide on our matchday 23.
"Naturally, the guys who have been left out will feel desperately disappointed as they have all put in the hard yards.
"I stressed the fact that this campaign is going to be a squad effort and every guy will be called upon, at different stages, to contribute to the team’s goals.
“This is an important game and a great start will set the tone for our campaign. We are excited to go out there and play."
Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:15.
15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha (captain), 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Juan Schoeman
Substitutes: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 John-Hubert Meyer, 18 Tendai Mtawarira, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Daniel du Preez, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Curwin Bosch, 23 Kobus van Wyk