Durban – Patrick Lambie has been released from Springbok duty this week and named on the bench for the Sharks' first home match of the Currie Cup season, against the Pumas in Durban on Friday.
The star back missed close to four months of rugby after surgery on a torn biceps muscle and only returned last month.
National coach Heyneke Meyer wanted to see him gain more game time and did something similar last week when he sent two other recent returnees to his squad back to Western Province – Eben Etzebeth and Frans Malherbe.
Lambie would have to be content with a place on the bench as his coach Brad Macleod-Henderson stuck largely to the same team which defeated the Griquas 31-24 in Kimberley last weekend.
Only one change was made for the Kings Park clash with young lock JC Astle making his run-on debut in the second row, in place of Stephan Lewies, who is unavailable.
“I think there were eight guys making their Currie Cup debuts for the Sharks and all had strong games, so it was a good start for us,” Macleod-Henderson said of his inexperienced team who were without their Springboks players doing national duty.
Scrumhalf Cameron Wright retained his place and would continue his halfback pairing with flyhalf Fred Zeilinga.
“I thought Cameron came through brilliantly for a first game at this level in difficult conditions.
“He had a fantastic game, so we're very happy.”
Another new uncapped player Johan Meyer was on the bench.
“We've taken a lot of confidence out of our away win last week and we're very excited about being back home. It's fantastic to play at Kings Park,” Macleod-Henderson said.
Sharks team: SP Marais, Odwa Ndungane, S'bura Sithole, Paul Jordaan, Tonderai Chavhanga, Fred Zeilinga, Cameron Wright, Tera Mtembu (captain), Etienne Oosthuizen, Jacques Botes, Marco Wentzel, JC Astle, Lourens Adriaanse, Kyle Cooper, Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: Monde Hadebe, Matt Stevens, Johan Meyer, Francois Kleinhans, Hanco Venter, Patrick Lambie, Lionel Cronje. – Sapa