Despite missing a handful of Springboks and given that the Carling Currie Cup has also dipped into their player pool, Everitt has still been able to select a very strong side for the match at Emirates Airline Park.

Lukhanyo Am leads the side and he is joined by a Test-laden backline, with all the familiar faces amongst a bruising pack.

Cell C Sharks fullback Aphelele Fassi explained where the team is in a mental and preparation space and points out that the learnings they have taken on-board will stand them in good stead as the competition now resumes after the tournament broke for the festive season holidays.

"It’s been a tough two weeks after the break and our focus has been on reflecting on phase one of the URC which was a difficult challenge playing overseas," said Fassi.

"The learnings taken from that into this phase of the URC has been good for us and we’re looking forward to getting out there and rectifying our mistakes and building from there."

The Bok fullback added that the vibe is positive and the players are all excited to get stuck into the tournament: "The mood in the camp is relaxed, and everyone is eager to get out there and play. There’s a lot of energy at training, the boys want to put in a good effort every session, even though it’s scorching out there. But everyone is happy that there are fixtures and that we’re able to play again."

Casting his mind to their opponents on Saturday, Fassi said: "We know the Lions are full of intensity, but with that comes mistakes and one thing we’ve looked after is being able to capitalise on opportunities that we receive, so to convert four from five opportunities would be great. And then playing in the right areas of the field is something we want to achieve.

“We’re expecting a very fast game. They’re a team that loves to play with a lot of intensity and keep the ball in play and we’re looking forward to the game. For some of us, it’s our first taste of URC rugby, for some it’s their first game in a long time and we’re all looking forward to the challenge."

Cell C Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Boeta Chamberlain, 9 Grant Williams, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi, 7 Jeandre Labuschagne, 6 James Venter, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ox Nche. Replacements: 16 Fez Mbatha, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 Reniel Hugo, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, 23 Jeremy Ward.