It may serve as a publicity exercise more than a crucial encounter, but the Sharks know that a surprise victory in at least one of their crank-ups against the Bulls will dissuade the many prophets of doom gathering around Absa Stadium.
With the Sharks fielding the weakest squad on paper, the pressure following two poor Currie Cup campaigns and last year’s wooden spoon in the Super 12 is immense.
The continued fitness of key veterans AJ Venter and Percy Montgomery will be critical, as well as fringe performers like Gcobani Bobo and Skipper Badenhorst finding a semblance of form.
The Sharks kick-off the competition with two home encounters with the Chiefs and Cheetahs before departing on their away leg, and two defeats will mean the job of avoiding relegation will be noticably tougher.
The task that is securing a good start begins tomorrow. Game one begins at 15h00, game two at 17h00.
The 36 man squad to play the Bulls is:
Jacques Botes, Nico Breedt, Warren Britz, Albert van den Berg, AJ Venter, Brent Moyle, Bismarck du Plessis, Deon Carstens, Jaco Gouws, Braam Immelman, Solly Tyibilika, Johann Muller, Johan Ackermann, Danie Saayman, Skipper Badenhorst, Heinke van der Merwe, Jody Jenneker, Pierre du Toit, Steven Sykes and Daniel Farani
JP Pietersen, Dusty Noble, Gcobani Bobo, Andries Strauss, Brett Hennessey, Percy Montgomery, Ruan Pienaar, Greg Goosen, Odwa Ndungane, Grant Rees, Bradley Barritt, Craig Burden, Scott Spedding, Scott Mathie, Sandile Nxumalo and Henno Mentz