Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby Neil Powell has named a Bok-laden side to host one of the giants of English Premiership rugby, a fitting tribute to the new tournament and the respect held for their opponents.
Kolisi is joined by fellow Springbok Eben Etzebeth after the international duo missed last week’s Vodacom United Rugby Championship game following a heavy workload for the national side in their four-match Castle Lager Outgoing Tour to Europe in November.
There are numerous other Boks handily placed throughout the team as they look to get their first match of this new competition off to a winning start.
This is a new and decisive test for the South African sides who have not had a taste of Heineken Champions Cup rugby in the past, but the good showing of the local teams in last year’s and again the current Vodacom URC tournament reflect their readiness to play, compete and succeed at this level.
With Etzebeth back in the starting line-up, Vincent Tshituka will revert back to the loose forward role he played previously, alongside Kolisi and Phepsi Buthelezi. Powell has retained much of the same backline as last week, with the only change seeing Werner Kok replacing Marnus Potgieter on the wing.
Cell C Sharks: 15 Boeta Chamberlain, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche. Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Sikhumbuzo, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Lionel Cronje, 23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg.