Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse named a squad featuring a few experienced campaigners for their Super Rugby Unlocked opener against the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Stonehouse will be hoping his senior players can provide the direction for the energetic newcomers in the group.
Veterans to shoulder plenty of responsibility
Willie Engelbrecht (Number Eight), Devon Williams (fullback) and skipper Ryan Nell (centre) are some of the more experienced players in the starting team, while another seasoned veteran in Ruwellyn Isbell, has been named on the bench.
Furthermore, Le Roux Roets (lock) and Jeandre Rudolph (replacement loose forward) have returned to Nelspruit after loan stints with the Sharks and Bulls respectively earlier in the season.
Their guidance and understanding of the Pumas’ style of play will be valuable in a team which features a number of players making their debuts for the side.
Among the forwards, Morgan Naude, Ruan Kramer (props), Marko van Rensburg (hooker), Kwanda Dimaza and Daniel Maartens (flankers) will don the Pumas jersey for the first time, while Eddie Fouche (flyhalf) and Wayne van der Bank (centre) are the newbies among the backs.
Their young halfback pairing of Ginter Smuts and Eddie Fouche will be tested in the area of game control and Nell will need to keep a close eye on the greenhorns.
The Pumas are set to become the eighth South African team to contest a Super Rugby fixture; each of the last two South African teams to enter the competition have won their maiden games (Cats, Kings).
The Pumas conceded just 6.5 offloads per game in the 2019 Currie Cup, the fewest of any team in the competition; they made 7.2 offloads per game of their own in last seasons domestic campaign.
The match kicks off at 16:30 on Saturday and will be broadcast live on the SuperSport Rugby and Grandstand channels.
Pumas matchday squad – Super Rugby Unlocked vs Cheetahs
Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Luther Obi, 13 Wayne van der Bank, 12 Ryan Nell (captain), 11 Neil Maritz, 10 Eddie Fouche, 9 Ginter Smuts, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Kwanda Dimaza, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Ruan Kramer, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Morgan Naude.
Replacements: 16 Liam Hendricks, 17 Simon Westraadt, 18 Dewald Maritz, 19 Darrien Landsberg, 20 Jeandre Rudolph, 21 Dian Badenhorst, 22 Neil Marais, 23 Ruwellyn Isbell.
Pumas Standby reserves: 24 HP van Schoor (standby), 25 Fiela Boshoff (standby).