Springbok skipper John Smit will start Saturday’s Super 14 match up between the Sharks and the Chiefs from the replacements bench.
The influential front row forward takes a break from the Sharks’ starting XV after playing almost every minute of his side’s pre-season fixtures and the opening two rounds of this year’s Super 14.
Fellow Bok Bismarck du Plessis returns from injury to make his first start of the new campaign while Jannie du Plessis and Deon Carstens are named at prop for the unbeaten Sharks.
The move is an indication that the South African franchises will not overplay their star performers early in the season, ensuring they remain fresh in the build up to this summer’s Lions tour.
Former Swansea coach John Plumtree includes 10 members of the Springbok squad that toured the UK last autumn in his matchday 22, with Ruan Pienaar named at fly-half and Francois Steyn chosen at inside centre in two of the most influential selections as far as the Lions are concerned.
The Sharks currently sit fourth in the Super 14 table with two wins from two attempts, while fellow South African side the Bulls top the standings following successive bonus-point victories.
Sharks (vs Chiefs, Saturday, 6.35am GMT)
Stefan Terblanche; Odwa Ndungane, Adrian Jacobs, Francois Steyn, JP Pietersen; Ruan Pienaar, Rory Kockott; Deon Carstens, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Steven Sykes, Johann Muller (captain), Jacques Botes, Jean Deysel, Ryan Kankowski
Replacements: John Smit, Tendai Mtawarira, Alistair Hargreaves, Keegan Daniel, Ross Cronjé, Riaan Swanepoel, Luzuko Vulindlu